Varnam | Restitution of looted cultural objects

One of the many crimes that Europeans did in India was stealing our artifacts for exhibition in their museums. Now there is movement to get the artifacts back to the country of origin. Among the countries that participated in the Conference on International Cooperation for the Protection and Repatriation of Cultural Heritage, last year in Cairo, few like Egypt, China, Nigeria, Peru, Mexico, Guatemala and Libya are doing something about this. India has not even sent a Surface to Surface dossier in this regard.

The Cairo Conference is an important historic event in so far as it constitutes a first clear attempt in recent years by States with restitution demands to organize themselves and fight collectively for the return of their cultural artefacts. The Conference is thus a direct challenge and answer to the notorious Declaration on the Value and Importance of Universal Museum. (14) Whereas the signatories of the Declaration proclaimed that artefacts kept over a long period in those museums become part of the culture of the States where they are located, the Cairo Conference boldly demanded that these objects be returned to the countries of origin. The artefacts requested are mostly icons that have been over decades in the “universal museums”- Rosetta Stone (since 1802 in the British Museum), bust of Nefertiti (in Germany since 1913 and after various locations now in Neues Museum, Berlin), Parthenon/Elgin Marbles (in Britain since 1801 and in the British Museum since 1816), the Benin bronzes (since 1897 in the British Museum and other Western museums). In other words, this is a serious direct challenge to positions many in the West have considered for long to be unassailable. The success or failure of the Cairo requests will have consequences on future demands for restitution of cultural objects.[REFLECTIONS ON THE CAIRO CONFERENCE ON RESTITUTION: ENCOURAGING BEGINNING (via IndiaArchaeology)]


DISCLAIMER: This is an archived post from the Indian National Interest blogroll. Views expressed are those of the blogger's and do not represent The Takshashila Institution’s view.