Return

We’ve discussed the technicalities of terms like “repatriation” and “restitution”, but the urgent debates to address the colonial past (and its contemporary effects!) in museums point towards the need for a broader term to cover the impetus on western institutions to proactively initiate processes of cultural restitution. “Return” works here as the shorthand that commentators often reach for when discussing the demand for the return of cultural heritage from (post)colonial places and peoples without confusing the technical specificities of terms like “repatriation” and “restitution”. Therefore, we can use it to mean a whole host of activities such as digital repatriation, improved access to collections, “spiritual guardianship” arrangements and the physical restitution of artefacts.

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