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Qingyuan Wu on The Restitution of African Cultural Heritage
8 November, 2023
‘The vocabulary of ‘collecting’ and of ‘harvesting’ […] suggests the undeniable cynicism: that after the harvest season, the objects will magically grow back again like fields of wheat.’
‘Even if it is somewhat reinvented, […] The erasure of memory has been so successful that communities have even begun to lose any remaining knowledge of this cultural heritage or recognize the depth of the loss that has been suffered.’
The irony lies in the revival of what is nearly extinct in its native cultural context on a distant shore, taking on a misunderstood form. They are stacked in basements devoid of light, awaiting the invaders to script their history. Even when they find their way back to their rightful owners, what is done cannot be undone. Perhaps staying here is their true destination — quietly narrating their tales, like a genuine ambassador.