Who Owns the Past? Museums and Cultural Heritage Repatriation


Manage episode 226176157 series 128005
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In November 2018, a report commissioned by French President Emannuel Macron called for artifacts taken to France during the heyday of European imperialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries be returned to Africa, sending shock waves throughout the museum world. “I cannot accept,” said Macron, “that a large part of the cultural heritage of several African countries is in France.” The expropriation of material culture has proven controversial in a variety of contexts, from the acquisition of Native American remains by American museums to the complicated provenance of Greek and Roman antiquities held by such major art institutions as the Getty Villa in Los Angeles and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. This month, History Talk speaks with two experts in material culture and museum studies — Professor Sarah Van Beurden and Origins editor Professor Steven Conn — about how cultural heritage repatriation debates have played out differently around the world, as well as what these debates reveal about the very nature of cultural heritage itself.

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