The Return of Cultural Artefacts

Alexander Herman


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Debates about the restitution of cultural objects have been ongoing for many decades, but have acquired a new urgency recently with the intensification of scrutiny of European museum collections acquired in the colonial period. Alexander Herman's fascinating and accessible book provides an up-to-date overview of the restitution debate with reference to a wide range of current controversies. This is a book about the return of cultural treasures: why it is demanded, how it is negotiated and where it might lead. This debate forces us to confront an often dark history, and the difficult application of our contemporary conceptions of justice to instances from the past. Should we allow plundered artefacts to rest where they lie – often residing there by the imbalances of history? This book asks whether we are entering a new 'restitution paradigm', one that could have an indelible impact on the cultural sector - and the rest of the world - for many years to come. It provides essential reading for all those working in the art and museum worlds and beyond.


Alexander Herman:
Alexander Herman is Assistant Director of the Institute of Art and Law and co-directs the 'Art, Business and Law' LLM developed in partnership with the Centre for Commercial Law Studies at Queen Mary, University of London. He recently led an Arts Council England project to draft guidance for UK museums on the restitution and repatriation of collection items, and his articles on art-law and restitution issues appear regularly in The Art Newspaper.