08.06.2022 Africa's cultural heritage in European museums: from entangled (hi)stories to new relational ethics?

Important impulses for the conversation come from the project "Talking Objects", the research network "Re-connecting 'Objects': Epistemic Plurality and Transformative Practices in and beyond Museums" as well as from the practice of the Linden Museum Stuttgart.

Chair: Thomas Fues (associated with Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung)
Speakers: Isabel Raabe (TALKING OBJECTS LAB) Lotte Arndt (TU Berlin) Fiona Siegenthaler (Linden-Museum Stuttgart) Flower Manase Msuya (National Museum of Tanzania)
Format: Roundtable
Location: Room 1009
Sessions: Wednesday 8 June, 14:00-15:30 (UTC+2)

Many objects in (ethnological) museums were brought to Europe by force during colonial rule. While only a few of them are exhibited for a broader public, large quantities slumber unnoticed in the archives. The form of presentation of these stolen objects in “Museum collections” often conceals the violent circumstances of appropriation. It also ignores the object’s meaning for the societies of origin - embedded in cultural, spiritual, religious, or social practices, those “objects” were experienced as “subjects”.

How can the critical engagement with such objects create a new relational ethic between the formerly colonized countries and the colonial powers? The recognition of colonial injustice and the transfer of property rights to the societies of origin are at the core of the current restitution debates. If handled properly, the process of restitution could become a door opener for mutual learning around the objects, people and communities.

This roundtable is connected to the “Decolonial Dialogues” of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, in which actors from Germany, Europe and Africa exchange perspectives, knowledge and experiences. The aim is to discuss joint steps for the decolonisation of museums, the development of the creative industries and new forms of cultural cooperation.