In both the ex-colonial and the ex-colonized worlds, visions of Africa and its colonial past have become incarcerated in stereotypes, dichotomies, and historical misrepresentation. Especially in European Cultural Heritage, we see a mixture of these ambivalent subjects and habits of lack of self-searching. But the restitution debate in Europe on cultural objects from Africa (Sarr/Savoy 2018) and the Black Lives Matter movement, which also reached Europe in 2020, have set the course for a questioning of the colonial essence of Cultural Heritage. Recent questions about history politics, cultural memory and cultural traditions are now also – and above all – debated in public. Museums, Cultural Heritage institutions, Universities with their collections and their self-image are now more than ever in the spotlight of the dynamics of a global debate.
In the course of the conference, we aim to discuss the following questions:
- How can Cultural Heritage be decolonized in science, society, politics, and institutions to avoid ideological extremism?
- Are there national differences and similarities in Europe?
- Who are the actors and networks involved in defending the status quo or in decolonizing Cultural Heritage?
- What are the direct and indirect consequences of unreflect and stereotypical Cultural Heritage in Europe?
- How can the ‘decolonialization of Cultural Heritage’ contribute to the field of development cooperation with the African continent?
The conference will be organized within four sessions:
1. Historical misrepresentation: The concealment of colonial history in Cultural Heritage
2. The survival of Stereotypes: Reflections on the Imaginary within Cultural Heritage
3. University’s collection: Current states and new approaches
4. European Museums: Restitutions and new displays
The conference is organised under the umbrella of the Coimbra Group, an association of long-established European multidisciplinary universities of high international standard.