On Relationality and Repair: Museums in the Time of Restitution

Twitchin, Mischa. 2023. 'On Relationality and Repair: Museums in the Time of Restitution'. In: Memory Studies Association Annual Conference. Newcastle, United Kingdom 3-7 July 2023. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

The artefacts of “world cultures” that are housed in the museums of the West are often defined in terms of a binary between being either timeless evidence of the heritage of humanity or the historical evidence of colonial theft. The institutions themselves are conceived of as either encyclopaedic guardians of cultural curiosity or provincializing prisons of cultural appropriation. Overlayered with another common binary between ethnographic history and art history, itself historically associated with interest in “traditional” or “contemporary” arts, these frameworks occlude as much as they reveal. While demands for restitution and reparative justice should surely be transformational for the cultural understanding of the West – developing processes of “unlearning” (Azoulay) and “decoloniality” (Mignolo) – these seem, nonetheless, barely to touch enduring neo-colonial realities of extraction and exploitation. In this context, the panel invites contributions that refract questions concerning the “return” of cultural artefacts in ways that explore the complex entanglements involved in networks of cultural memory (and, indeed, phantasy), reflecting on modes of relationality (and, perhaps, opacity), rather than simply “property”. The manifold sense of “possession”, for instance, engages with the cultural politics of community and change, of relation and repair, entailing a profound reappraisal of the memory politics of metropolitan museums.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)


6 July 2023Completed

Event Location:

Newcastle, United Kingdom

Date range:

3-7 July 2023

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

13 Jul 2023 10:35

Last Modified:

13 Jul 2023 10:35



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