P036
Ethnography and the repatriation of artistic heritage
Convenor:
Ben Burt (British Museum)
Format:
Panels
Location:
British Museum - Sackler A
Start time:
3 June, 2018 at 15:30
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

How can those engaged in research with cultural minorities contribute to their cultural development by repatriating knowledge of their disappearing artistic traditions?

Long abstract:

The material culture of the world's cultural minorities is changing so fast that those who document it inevitably find themselves contributing to an archive of artistic knowledge, images and artefacts that have been lost to their source communities. Insofar as such communities retain or regain an interest in this artistic heritage, it may be desirable to repatriate it, but this raises questions about how to do so, for what purpose and in what form. Do communities want to revive artistic practices, to reinterpret them, teach about them or simply own a record of them? How preferable and practicable is it to return knowledge, for instance, through publications or archives, as hard copy or digital resources, through community outreach or education programmes, or by opening museum collections and archives to indigenous resarchers? How do such projects affect contentious claims for the return of artefacts? This panel invites examples of artistic repatriation that have contributed to the cultural development of changing source commuities to discuss their aims, methods, achievements and experiences.