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International Conference

"Museum Collections in Motion. Colonial and Postcolonial Encounters. (15-17 July, 2019)


Conference's goal and direction:

The recent initiative of French President Macron, who has commissioned art historian Bénédicte Savoy (Berlin/Paris) and Senegalese scholar Felwine Sarr to initiate the restitution of African objects from French collections, has opened a new chapter in the long history of transcontinental entanglements, which have evolved around ethnographic objects, art, and material “things” between Europe and the formerly colonized societies. At the same time, this initiative has set a world-wide agenda for decolonizing museum collections and academic research in the coming years, opening up a new space for transnational exchange, but creating also new challenges for museum work and academic research. By bringing together B. Savoy, F. Sarr, A. Mbembe and representatives of the main museums in Cologne and Berlin as well as UoC experts, this conference wanted to shed light on the manifold paradoxes and contradictions around the iconoclasm of colonial theft and destruction of objects, and on the painful voids felt by source communities and the resulting controversies around the various archives, its objects and curators, researchers and politicians.