Comparative Repatriation Histories from European Museums to Stakeholder Communities

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Students on-site
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Course Description: 

This course gives an introduction to repatriation, the call to return looted artefacts, within the process of decolonization since the 20th Century. Students will learn to analyse different perspectives and theories from history and related disciplines, looking at the role of nationalism and identity politics. Concepts of sovereignty from imperial rule and repair for postcolonial traumas will be explored through specific localities in Africa, Oceania, and Latin America. Comparative methods and research skills will introduce students to non-Western histories through concrete repatriation cases from Austria to Holocaust survivors, Germany to Namibia and Benin, and the UK to the former British dominions. Learning methods of decolonial research will include the use of archives, interviews, oral history, object biography and close reading. Discourse analysis of the current debate around the Benin Bronzes and acquiring the skills of provenance research will equip students to formulate critical readings of their own.

Learning Outcomes: 

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module students should be able to:

• Demonstrate an understanding of the impact of colonialism on societies and cultural production.

• Analyse political instrumentalization of global material culture and draw reasoned deductions.

• Formulate questions and conduct interviews with knowledge of the ethical protocols of oral history.

• Use testimonies and material culture, together with written archives, as historical evidence.

• Consider non-European ontologies in the making of future comparative histories.


Assessment can be in the form of an interview or a written essay or a documentary audio visual / film essay.