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'Museums and Restitution, New Practices, New Approaches'

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Museums and Restitution, New Practices, New Approaches


Edited by Louise Tythacott, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK, and Kostas Arvanitis, University of Manchester, UK


September 2014


This book examines contemporary approaches to restitution from the perspective of museums. It focuses on the ways in which these institutions have been addressing the subject at a regional, national and international level. In particular, it explores contemporary practices and recent claims, and investigates to what extent the question of restitution as an issue of ownership is still at large, or whether museums have found additional ways to conceptualise and practice restitution, by thinking beyond the issue of ownership. The challenges, benefits and drawbacks of recent and current museum practice are explored. At the same time, the book discusses how these museum practices are received , and informed, by source communities, institutional and governmental agendas and visitors' expectations in order to explore issues of authority, collaboration and shared or conflicting values between the different communities involved in the process. This important book will contribute to the developing body of literature that academics, professionals, policy makers and students can refer to in order to understand how restitution has been negotiated, 'materialised', practiced and evaluated within museums.

Contents: Museums and restitution: an introduction, Louise Tythacott and Kostas Arvanitis. Part I Overviews: Crossing the line: restitution and cultural equity, Tristram Besterman; Authority and the power of place: exploring the legitimacy of authorized and alternative voices in the restitution discourse, Piotr Bienkowski. Part II Perspectives from Around the World: Repatriation: political will and museum facilities, Eeva-Kristiina Harlin and Anne May Olli; The practice of repatriation: a case study from New Zealand, Conal McCarthy; ‘A welcome and important part of their role’: the impact of repatriation on museums in Scotland, Neil Curtis; In consideration of restitution: understanding and transcending the limits of repatriation under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), Helen A. Robbins. Part III Reflections on Returns: Repatriating agency: animacy, personhood and agency in the repatriation of Ojibwe artefacts, Maureen Matthews; Debating the restitution of human remains from Dutch museum collections: the case of the skulls from Urk, Demelza van der Maas; A crate in the basement: on the works of Kazimir Malevich loaned to the Hanover Museum, Ines Katenhusen; Claiming the Parthenon Marbles back: whose claim and on behalf of whom?, Kalliopi Fouseki. Index.

About the Editor: Louise Tythacott is Dr Pratapaditya Pal Senior Lecturer in Curating and Museology of Asian Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and was previously Lecturer in Museology at the University of Manchester. She has worked in the museum field for over a decade, latterly as Head of Asian, African, Oceanic and American Collections at National Museums Liverpool. She has published widely on the relationship between museums and anthropology: her books include Surrealism and the Exotic (2003) and The Lives of Chinese Objects: Buddhism, Imperialism and Display (2011). She is also a Managing Editor of the journal, Museum and Society.

Kostas Arvanitis is Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Museology at the University of Manchester, UK. His research crosses the fields of museology, archaeology and digital heritage. He has published on the theory and practice of digital, social and mobile media in museums and the interpretation of archaeological sites in urban environments.

Reviews: ‘This book is essential reading for anyone interested in restitution. Its essays bring together global case studies and thematic overviews, exploring the wide range of activities, outcomes, thought and policy involved in restitution, including disputed cases; ethics and issues of power; and the potentially positive effects of restitution on museums as well as the real challenges it poses to museums.’
Laura Peers, University of Oxford, UK

‘Repatriations of cultural material and human remains continue to arouse debate in the international heritage sector. In this lively collection, leading figures guide us through an impressive range of topics in essays that are sometimes provocative, sometimes reflective, but always revealing. Museums and Restitution is crucial reading for anyone interested in the changing role of museums in a global context.’
Samuel J.M.M. Alberti, Director of Museums and Archives, Royal College of Surgeons of England, UK

‘Addressing the contentious and emotional complexity of issues concerning the repatriation and return of cultural treasures, Museums and Restitution provides readers with a valuable overview of current scholarship in the field. This carefully edited volume contains a wealth of material and is highly recommended to students of museums, heritage and cultural studies as well as to professionals and individuals concerned with museums and social justice.’
Viv Golding, University of Leicester, UK

  • Imprint: Ashgate
  • Illustrations: Includes 17 b&w illustrations
  • Published: September 2014
  • Format: 234 x 156 mm
  • Extent: 204 pages
  • Binding: ebook PDF
    (Also available in ebook ePUB)
  • Other editions: Hardback
  • ISBN: 978-1-4094-3564-8
  • ISBN Short: 9781409435648
  • BL Reference: 069'.5
  • LoC Control No: 2014010738
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