The Repatriation of the Treasures Looted During Colonialism


Featured image: Triumphal procession into Paris of art looted by Napoleon from Italy in 1797. The Horses of Saint Mark in the centre, themselves taken from Constantinople in 1204, were returned to Italy in 1815. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In the last decades the debate on repatriation of the remains and the return of the treasures looted during the colonialism has developed, leading to the failure of neocolonial style projects as the Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums.

On July 27, 2016 the Government of Benin (2.4 Retour des objets précieux royaux emportés par l’armée française lors de la conquête de novembre 1892), with the support of the Conseil Représentatif des Associations Noirs (CRAN), asked France the return of the treasures looted  during the conquest of November 1892. On December 12, 2016 the Government of France (lire: la lettre secrète et honteuse par laquelle le Quai d’Orsay a refusé la restitution des trésors du Bénin) secretly refused to return the looted treasures.

On April 1, 2017 the Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology of the University of Cambridge announced a possible neocolonial style agreement to loan to Nigeria the treasures looted in 1897 during the conquest of the Benin kingdom (now Nigeria), so as to not to have to return them effectively.

On August 2, 2017 the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK), which manages German museums, announced the launch of the investigation of the origins of about a thousand skulls looted during colonialism to decide how to handle them, not excluding their return. The Berlin Postkolonial NGO therefore asked that also the Berlin Society of Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory (Rudolf-Virchow Collection) begin investigating the origins of the remains looted during the colonialism in their possession and that both provide then for the repatriation of the remains. On October 14 and 15, 2017 the conference Prussian Colonial Heritage: Sacred Objects and Human Remains in Berlin Museums will be held in Berlin, the capital of Germany, organized by the No Humboldt 21! coalition to allow source community members and experts to participate in the debate on return and repatriation.

Colonialism Reparation asks the repatriation of the remains and the return of the treasures looted during colonialism and invites all the active subjects to begin from this first step and to continue in the direction of the Reparation of the damages of colonialism with due condemnation, reconciliation, apologies and compensations.

Articles by: Colonialism Reparation

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