Thursday, May 20, 2021

Cambridge Union Debate: "Should Museums Return their Colonial Artefacts"?

 On May 17, the Cambridge Union, reputedly the world's oldest debating club, at Cambridge University hosted one of its debate panels, this time on the question: "Should Museums Return their Colonial Artefacts"? The four invited debate participants were: Dr. Monica Hanna who is acting Dean of the College of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, Arab Academy for Science and Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT) in Aswan, Egypt; Dan Hicks, archaeologist and anthropologist and Professor of Contemporary Archaeology at the University of Oxford, Curator at the Pitt Rivers Museum, and a Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford. He is also the author of the hard-hitting book, The Brutish Museums (2020); Felwine Sarr, a humanist, philosopher, economist,  and the Anne-Marie Bryan Chair in French and Francophone Studies at Duke University, and is the author of Afrotopia (2019); and me. Cambridge Union Speakers Officer Tara Bhagat moderated. I really liked this panel--among the many that I have been involved in this past year, on the subject of restitution of African artefacts in European and American museums and institutions.

If you are interested in learning news stuff about the issues pertinent to the vexed question of colonial-era looting of African artefacts and cultural heritage, the fate of the captive objects, and the broader meaning and scope of restitution, the full panel can be found here on Youtube.

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