Fifth Interdisciplinary Fellow Group at MIASA (IFG 5)


                         IFG 5 fellows from left to right: Dr. Jakob Zollmann, Dr. Stefanie Michels-Schneider, Dr. Kokou Azamede, Dr. Getrude Aba Mansah Eyifa-Dzidzienyo, JunProf Dr. Martin Doll


MIASA has welcomed their fifth Interdisciplinary Fellow Group in September. Five fellows from Ghana, Germany and Togo have come together at the University of Ghana to address matters of restitution of looted cultural objects under the heading of "The 4 Rs in Africa: Reality or Transcultural Aphasia?" in cooperation with the Department of Archeology.

The group of fellows is composed of researchers from the fields of history, archeology, international law, cultural studies and media. Together they address the restitution debate in an interdisciplinary approach by interrogating the four 'Rs' - restitution, return, repatriation and reparation - as they apply to the African contexts and their cultural objects held in Western Museums.

The debate about "restitution of cultural objects" ties into the relation of African countries vis-à-vis their former colonial powers and the West in general. As African intellectuals have noted, both the historical but more so the present relations should be recalibrated. The fellow group thus addresses fundamental asymmetries in the international relation between European and
African nations.

One of the group's common focus is on the colonial encounter between Germany and the former Western Togoland - a region that lost significant cultural objects during German colonial encounters that can now be found in the German museums. A field trip to Kpando in the Volta Region in September set the grounds for a case study on a particular restitution claim to Germany. Throughout their fellowship stay at MIASA the group will be discussing the restitution issue with the various stakeholders on local, national and international levels. By highlighting the microhistory of restitution the project will help to empower citizens within African nations. By making visible the multiplicity of actors and stakeholders involved the research project will deepen the understanding of complexities of restitution and its potentials and pitfalls.

The fellow group will be convening for four months. A final conference is planned for mid-December.