More from “The Return of Cultural Treasures” by Jeanette Greenfield

Since the 1980s there has been wider recognition of the rights of indigenous or aboriginal people – First Nations – to reclaim their cultural heritage through retrieving their relics and the bones of their ancestors. Sometimes the issue of artefacts becomes intermingled with the question of funerary objects, particularly bones. The history of their loss has often been painful. Repatriation involves restoring the collective memory, and in some respects it is as much about putting the ancestors to rest. These things were not originally treasured for their material worth but for the fact that they emanated from the marrow and the spirit of their owners and their earthly existence. It could be argued that no museum can fully convey that. (300)

More on the book.

I’m starting to notice more and more to what point cases of looted antiquites and those concerning indigenous communities are vastly different when it comes to repatriation, and I think this excerpt describes why that is.

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