KITONG-KIASS INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON THE 3RRR
RESTITUTION, REHABILITATION and RECONCILIATION
targeting the Austrian Cultural and Political Context
From August 31st to September 2nd of 2022 AFRIEUROTEXT and fresh Magazine are organizing an international symposium on the return of illegally acquired African Artifacts in Austrian Museums.
KITONG-KIASS INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON THE 3RRR_2022
KITONG-KIASS INTERNATIONALES 3RRR-SYMPOSIUM_2022
The Restitution issue is in fact a framework, a chance for a differentiated dialogue between Africa and Europe, based on mutual respect. (See Achille Mbembe). Cultural Artifacts from African Countries kept in European Museum Institutions are a dimension of the cultural DNA of African Societies. Their captivity in European Museums and their absence in African Countries as well as the various claims of getting them back to Africa have put the debate on restitution in the center of actual political, cultural and societal awareness. European museum institutions deal with all forms of argument and tend to pass the “hot potato” of returning stolen works of art from Africa to their respective political decision-makers. However, the life of political de-cision-makers is always dependent on winning or losing legislative periods and every party fears unpopular decisions. Why should the return of looted art from Africa be held captive in such a calculated dilemma? The return of some looted art objects made by some European countries so far are courageous signs in the right direction. But let’s not be fooled by salami tactics. The development of return models and above all the clear return of stolen African art treasures is the prerequisites for that Justice and Reconciliation at the global scale and especial-ly as far as people of color and people of African descent are concerned.
This INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM is conceived and carried out by AFRIEUROTEXT Austria in cooperation with fresh, Black Austrian Lifestyle Magazine and it is creating a triple impact through the (tri)logic of Restitution – Rehabilitation and Reconciliation in the Austrian Cultural and Political Context. It seeks to raise the awareness of the Austrian Civil Society, political establishment and of the classical Austrian Institutions producing discourses on/about Africa, on the necessity of a (govern)mentality turn as far as the Restitution Issue, the Reha-bilitation of the African Subject, Justice and Reconciliation both locally and globally are con-cerned. The Restitution Issue cannot be limited on everlasting research on the provenance of the looted African Artefacts – (Provenienzforschung). This could be seen in a certain way as a strategy to lose time and at the end no concrete return of looted African Artefacts kept in Austrian Federal Museums will happen.
Speaking of African Arts, it is a misconception to ignore African Literatures, since both societal fields or disciplines are intertwined, and as well as in the Arts fields looting, dispossession, misrecognition, distortion and trivialization of what could be called “African Literatures” has happened and is still happening, especially in the enterprise of western European academic, historiographic and literary institutions to define African Literature. As far as African Art objects or subjects – kept in Austrian museums – are concerned, one should not overlook/overhear „African textualities“ that resonate and reverberate not only in a concrete work of art (e.g., a carved stone, an ebony sculpture, etc.) but also in the various manifestations of African literary genres that have shaped and continue to shape African societies. The mvet or mvett (e.g.) is trivially visually a wooden musical instrument and on display in Austrian museums among other objects, but the mvet/mvett is in fact a rich literary genre from the Beti Fang mythologies of the Central African area and the Congo Basin. One of the tasks of this symposium is also to shed light on repressed/suppressed dimensions of “African textualities”, which are often neglected and disqualified in/by European academic institutions when it comes to defining what African Literature is or is not. This also has to do with the Rehabilitation of African subjects/objects.
Proposal of contributions or papers from various fields are solicited: cultural, social and natural sciences (African Arts and Literatures, Anthropology, Political Sciences, Geography, History, Sociology, Biology, Architecture, Mathematics, Arts and Law, street/town/village Arts etc.). Multifarious activities, debates, panel discussions, exhibitions, plays, festivals, film pro-jections and workshops from different social and political fields are welcome in order to achieve not only that (govern)mentality turn but also to inspire, initiate, accompany and tes-timony concrete returns of African Cultural Artefacts kept in Austrian Museums to Africa. Your contributions should touch and address the core issues of the symposium mentioned here in order to be selected. For selected contributions there is an honorarium as an expense allow-ance rewarded at the end of the symposium. For symposium participants who arrive from abroad, travel expenses will be reimbursed, and accommodation costs will be covered. If the Covid situation does not allow large numbers of people to gather in one place, the symposium will take place online.
Kindly send your proposals for contributions to email@example.com by April 30th, 2022 at 00:00 hour the latest. Telephone: 0043 650 7235099
The project coordination of AFRIEUROTEXT can only be reached by telephone again from February 9th, 2022.
This project ist supported by:
RESTITUTION, REHABILITATION and RECONCILIATION
On the Restitution of African Cultural Artefacts kept in Austrian Museums
(OUR ENDLESS COMITTMENT)
Projektkonzeption und -träger/Project conception and carrier:
(Kulturverein und Buchhandlung / Cultural Association and Bookstore)
in cooperation with / in Kooperation mit
The discourse on Restitution didn´t started with President Emmanuel Macron appearing in Ouagadougou and publishing the will of the French government to give back African Cultur-al Artefact kept in French Museums. The debate on restitution can be trace back to the Peri-od after the Ethiopian-Italian wars, when the library of Addis Abeba was plundered by Ital-ian soldiers. And after the during the decolonisation struggles in Africa and even after the independence of African Countries the debate on the restitution of stolen African Artifacts was still a hot potato. And before both Felwine Saar and Benedicte Savoy reactivated the fire on the Restitution Issue, some African researcher from different fields where already draw-ing the attention of the worldwide civil society on the importance and the necessity of Resti-tution, Rehabilitation, Reconciliation. These 3RRR constitutes in fact the focal point of this project. Then those 3RRR are a compilation of the aspects of the past, present and future of our world, the history of violence, oppression, economic exploitation, racial segregation etc. And the African Continent and Africans was and is still the terrains par excellence, where subject and objects had made and are making the experience of trauma, the trauma of colonial exploitation and exclusion. And the scars and aftermaths of those traumatic experiences are still alive in our present and are even threatening to still be haunting the future of people of African descent locally and globally. (See Achille Mbembe).
Cultural Artifact from African Countries kept in European Museum Institutions are a dimension of the cultural ADN of African Societies. Their captivity in European Museums and they absence in African Countries as well as the various claims of getting them back to Africa has put the debate on restitution in the centre of actual political, cultural and societal awareness. Some major event like the murder of Georges Flyod, a Black American Citizen, by police brutality on the street of Minneapolis in the USA has fuelled the rage of not only of black people but also of non-black people all over the world claim for justice as the basis of every effective reconciliation. Restitution and Rehabilitation are also the prerequisite for that justice and reconciliation at the global scale and specially as far as people of color or people of African descent are concerned.
So this project that is creating a triple impact through the (tri)logic of RESTITUTION – REHABILITATION and RECONCILIATION in the Austrian Cultural and Political Context seeks to raise the awareness of the Austrian Civil Society, political establishment, of the classical Austrian Institutions dealing producing discourses on/about Africa on the necessity of a (govern)mentality turn as far the Restitution Issue, the Rehabilitation of the African Subject, Justice and Reconciliation both locally and globally are concerned. The acception of Restitution that is at work in this quaternal project is the acception of Achille Mbembe: “Restitu-tion as a necessary step to reopen the field of relations. Restitution not at all as separation, but as a precondition to (re)invent something new, to learn how to remember in common.”
The issue of restitution is in fact raising major questions: what is the place of the foreigner in our midst? Have we finished with the foreigner?
A four years huge program of multifarious activities on different social and political fields has been elaborated in other to achieve that (govern)mentality turn.
EVENT 2: WHEN „GERMAN“ GET LOST IN THE BUSCH
20th of May 2021, from 17 to 20 h
„Incidentally, we reaffirm the call for the return of African artifacts that are held hostage in museums and cultural institutions in Germany and are implementing a new policy of German-African cultural cooperation based on mutual respect and the willingness to jointly contribute to a fair redistribution of our world’s resources.“ This passage comes from the letter that African intellectuals addressed in May 2020 to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German President Frank Walter Steinmeier, on the occasion of the so-called Mbembe debate that flared up in Germany in spring 2020 – triggered by unfounded and insane Anti-Semitism accusations by Mr. Felix Klein, Federal Commissioner for Jewish Life, to the Cameroonian historian and political scientist Prof. Achille Mbembe.
The cultural scientist Daniel Bitouh and the publicist simon INOU had translated this letter from French into German and are taking this online discussion as an opportunity to get to the heart of the matter. This online event was embedded in the project „3RRR -Restitution – Rehabilitation and Reconciliation“. This online discussion was also part of the lecture series entitled “The German Debate on Achille Mbembe in Context. Highlights on cultures of remembrance and politics of history in the 21st century” at the Institute for Contemporary History at the University of Innsbruck.
Daniel R. Bitouh, Literary and cultural scientist, Head of AFRIEUROTEXT Vienna
Moderation: Eric Burton, Assistant Professor for Global History, Institute for Contemporary History at the University of Innsbruck
Dies was der Link of the online discussion: https://webconference.uibk.ac.at/b/dir-q6z-bbo-akr
EVENT 3: AN INTERVIEW OF BOTH Dr. KWAME OPUKU (Anthropologist) and Prof. BENEDICTE SAVOY (Art Historian) ON THE RESTITUTION ISSUE
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