New article in WeltTrends by Wazi Apoh & Andreas Mehler on the importance of a debate on restitution that includes the perspective of the state periphery.


In their article in WeltTrends Wazi Apoh, Principal Investigator at MIASA, Dean of the School of Arts and Associate Professor at the Department of Archeology at the University of Ghana, and Andreas Mehler, Vice President of MIASA Executive Council, Director of the Arnoldt-Bergstraesser-Institute Freiburg and Full Professor of Political Sciences at the University of Freiburg, are urging for a debate on restitution matters that includes the perspective of the state periphery.

Issues of restitution are currently debated more than ever in Germany. Part of the reasons for this is a more intense discussion of the crimes committed by the former colonial power. Specific attention is paid to the capital Berlin, an old colonial metropolis, and the so-called Humboldt Forum. Initially, the Humboldt Forum was meant to add to the variety of world heriatge museums in Berlin, exhibiting the cultural objects that have been gathered during the past centuries and collected by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (German: Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz or SPK). However, by many this way of dealing with these objects is no longer considered legitimate. Indeed, unsurprisingly the German government has recently made efforts to step up negotiations with respect to the reconciliation agreement with Namibia recognizing the genocide of the Nama and Herero as well as to the possible return of the Benin Bronzes to West Africa (although the latter will actually be presented in the Humboldt Forum). The German government‘s plan is to take swift action. However, as George Abungu, the former Director of the National Museum Kenya and a consultant to the Humboldt-Forum, stresses, it must be ensured that the new Berlin Museum for world heritage has to be able to guarantee that only those objects that have been properly assigned to their origin are used for the exhibitions, and these processes require the participation of the countries of origin. As the authors suggest, this is more than trivial, which, as in their view has to do with the responsibilities and the relations between the state center and the state periphery.

The full article in German can be accessed here.