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)
ZOOM KICK OFF-EVENT
Zoom-Kick off-Debatte mit Direktoren Österreichischer Bundesmuseen und der globalen Zivilgesellschaft
zoom kick off-debate with Directors of Austrian Federal Museums and the Global Civil Society
THEMA / TOPIC:
Provenienzforschung und Stand der Restitution afrikanischer Kolonial-(Raubkunst-)Kunst im Besitz Österreichischer Bundesmuseen
Provenance research and the status of the restitution of African colonial (looted) art in the possession of Austrian federal museums
Datum/Date: 04.03.2021/ 04th of March 2021 Uhrzeit/Time: 19h00
– Weltmuseum (Nadia Haumberger, angefragt/requested)
– Technisches Museum (Martina Griesser, zugesagt/confirmed)
– Museum für Angewandte Kunst (Rainald Franz, zugesagt/confirmed)
– Naturhistorisches Museum (Katrin Vohland, abgesagt/ not confirmed)
– NRA Abg. Henrike Brandstötter (NEOS) angefragt/requested
– Sophie Schasiepen, University of Western Cape, Südafrika (zugesagt/confirmed)
Daniel Bitouh, AFRIEUROTEXT
simon INOU, fresh Magazin
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 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
AN INTERVIEW OF BOTH Dr. KWAME OPUKU (Anthropologist) ON THE RESTITUTION ISSUE
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