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Interdisciplinary book symposium: ‘Confronting Colonial Objects’

OpinioJuris, one of the world’s leading international law blogs, has hosted an interdisciplinary online symposium on Professor Carsten Stahn’s new book entitled ‘Confronting Colonial Objects’.

The symposium focused on the extractive histories and legal frameworks governing the translocation of cultural artefacts and human remains, as well as the tensions and legal and political continuities associated with cultural restitution. It brought together perspectives from both established and emerging academics and experiences from various regions (Africa, Latin America and Asia).

The book contains the following posts:

  • the role of law and legal materiality in cultural takings (Alonso Gurmendi Dunkelberg),
  • the space of object biographies and plural normative orders in colonial histories (Sebastian Spitra);
  • the various ontologies of cultural objects and their impact on restitution (Óscar Genaro Macías Betancourt);
  • how colonial antiquity law and partage practices enabled and constrained extractive practices (Sebastian Willert);
  • perspectives on rethinking litigation and reparation policies through decolonial legal praxis ‘from below’ (Sarah Imani);
  • the role of transitional justice and alternative dispute resolution in returning colonial objects (Alessandro Chechi);
  • a model of inclusive heritage justice for returning human remains (Marie-Sophie de Clippele);
  • the complexity of the restitution of human remains in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Gracia Lwanzo Kasongo);
  • the role of racial theories, colonial stereotypes and cultural nationalism in returning a Benin Oba head to Angola (João Figueiredo);
  • complex conflicts of interest that may emerge among communities in repatriating cultural objects to their ‘place of origin’ (Raghavi Viswanath & Jessica Wiseman);
  • post-colonial continuities in France’s return of the Dahomey treasures to the Republic of Benin (Emery Patrick Effiboley);
  • reframing France’s colonial past in the discursive practices of the Musée du Quai Branly - Jacques Chirac (Sasha Merigot);
  • the taking of the Bangwa Queen and calls for the return of ancestral Bangwa artefacts (Chief Charles Taku).

More information on the book and symposium:

Confronting Colonial Objects (OUP, 2023), open access   

Symposium on Confronting Colonial Objects: Introduction

Photo: Soumya Dey through Unsplash

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