BIICL is currently undertaking a project entitled 'Beyond Restitution: Exploring the Story of Cultural Objects After Their Repatriation', which seeks to offer a longer-term view on restitution through an analysis of past experiences.
Whilst so far research has focused on the legal framework applicable to de-accessioning museum objects and the processes adopted to address restitution claims, this project studies the impact of restitution once objects have changed hands. Therefore, it seeks to inform the debate through its consideration of the impacts of restitution on the communities and countries of origin and on those institutions or nations from which the objects have been claimed. By expanding the understanding of return processes, the project aims to bring a nuanced perspective on the question of restitution and the broader issues at stake.
The project began in February 2021 and runs for 28 months. It includes several case studies, including one that looks at the return of stolen idols in Nepal and their role in managing living heritage. The research also considers relevant developments, such as the adoption in September 2022 of a Declaration adopted by the Ministers of Culture of the UNESCO Member States which considers restitution, see here. On International Museum Day 2023, based on some of the project's findings, we made call to increase funding for museums to enable them to adopt a proactive approach to return and restitution.
For more details please contact the project lead Kristin Hausler, Dorset Senior Fellow and Director of the Centre for International Law.
The project is funded by The Leverhulme Trust