2018-2023. 5 Years of Making and Debating Restitution

Cologne Crossroads Conversation No. 1 with Bénédicte Savoy (Berlin) and Ciraj Rassool (Cape Town) - Livestream on Dec 6 at 6pm

The conversation will be bilingual (English/German). Watch it live on December 6, 2023 at 6pm here:

For over 100 years, societies in the Global South have been fighting for the return of confiscated and looted cultural objects and human remains that are stored and researched in Europe. The speech by French President Emmanuel Macron in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) in November 2017 and the Restitution Report by Felwine Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy in November 2018 set a global agenda. Efforts to come to terms with colonial injustice, to reconsider anthropological or ethnographic museum collections, to pluralize knowledge and memory and to combat racism have gained momentum, but have also met with resistance. Bénédicte Savoy (Berlin) and Ciraj Rassool (Cape Town) are among the most important and wellknown players in the international restitution debates. Together, in this talks they look back on the controversies and practices of the last five years and discuss what has become of the promise of a ‘new relational ethics’ for the transactions between societies in the global North and South since the publication of the Restitution Report.

Prof. Dr. Bénédicte Savoy is an award-winning art historian at the TU Berlin. In addition to the Restitution Report, she recently published the books Afrikas Kampf um seine Kunst. Geschichte einer postkolonialen Niederlage (2021) and (with Albert Guaffo and others) Atlas der Abwesenheit. Cameroon’s Cultural Heritage in Germany (2023).

Prof. Dr. Ciraj Rassool is Director of the African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies at the University of the Western Cape and consultant to numerous national and international museum and heritage institutions. His publications include The Politics of Heritage in Africa: Economies, Histories and Infrastructures (2015), and Unsettled History: Making South African Public Pasts (2017).

Moderation: Nanette Snoep (Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum) & Martin Zillinger (University of Cologne)