Parution : Contested Holdings : Museum Collections in Political, Epistemic and Artistic Processes of Return

Contested Holdings


  • Bodenstein, Felicity (dir.)
  • Oţoiu, Damiana (dir.)
  • Troelenberg, Eva-Maria (dir.)

Felicity Bodenstein is a lecturer in the history of museums and heritage studies at Sorbonne University, Paris. She is also a principal investigator of the digital humanities project, financed by the Ernest von Siemens foundation, “Digital Benin” ( that will bring together data from close to 200 museums holding pieces from the 1897 British colonial expedition to Benin in their collections.

Damiana Otoiu is an assistant professor of political anthropology at the University of Bucharest. She coordinated several research projects, including Museums and Controversial Collections: Politics and Policies of Heritage-Making in Post-colonial and Post-socialist Contexts (2015-2017) and Decolonial Practices in Museum Collections (Europe and sub-Saharan Africa): Local Histories and Global Circulations (2021-2022).

Eva-Maria Troelenberg is professor for modern and contemporary art history at Utrecht University. Her main fields of interest include transcultural art and museum history, arts and visual cultures of the modern Mediterranean, Islamic art history and Orientalism.

Résumé de l’éditeur

Going beyond strictly legal and property-oriented aspects of the restitution debate, restitution is considered as part of a larger set of processes of return that affect museums and collections, as well as notions of heritage and object status. Covering a range of case studies and a global geography, the authors aim to historicize and bring depth to contemporary debates in relation to both the return of material culture and human remains. Defined as contested holdings, differing museum collections ranging from fine arts to physical anthropology provide connections between the treatment and conceptualization of collections that generally occupy separate realms in the museum world.


  • List of Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Introduction 1
    Felicity Bodenstein and Damiana Oţoiu
  • Part I. From Objects Back to People: Ways of Life and Loss
    • Chapter 1. The Value of Art – a Human Life? Works of Art in the Crosshairs of the Persecution of Jews under National Socialism 23
      Ulrike Saß
    • Chapter 2. Return as Reconstruction: The Gwoździec Synagogue Replica in the Museum of the History of Polish Jews 44
      Ewa Manikowska
    • Chapter 3. The Other Nefertiti: Symbolic Restitutions 65
      Ruth E. Iskin
  • Part II. The Subject of Return: Between Artefacts and Bodies
    • Chapter 4. Blurring Objects: Life Casts, Human Remains and Art History 81
      Noémie Etienne
    • Chapter 5. Of Phrenology, Reconciliation and Veneration: Exhibiting the Repatriated Life Cast of Māori Chief Takatahara at the Akaroa Museum 96
      Christopher Sommer
    • Chapter 6. Ancestors or Artefacts: Contention in the Definition, Retention and Return of Ngarrindjeri Old People 117
      Cressida Fforde, Major Sumner, Loretta Sumner, Tristram Besterman and Steve Hemming
  • Part III. ‘The Making of Law’: Politics and Museum Ethics
    • Chapter 7. A Long-Term Perspective on the Issue of the Return of Congolese Cultural Objects: Entangled Relations between Kinshasa and Tervuren (1930–80) 139
      Placide Mumbembele Sanger
    • Chapter 8. ‘How Would You Like to See Your Great-Grandfather in a Museum?’ The Issue of ‘Human Dignity’ in Repatriation Processes (Cases Involving French Museums) 163
      Cristina Golomoz
    • Chapter 9. (De)Museifying Collections of Physical Anthropology: The Display and/or the Restitution of Human Remains of Indigenous Peoples from Southern Africa 175
      Damiana Oţoiu
  • Part IV. Partial and Paused Returns
    • Chapter 10. Baroque Returns: The Donations and Reuses of Francesco Gualdi 197
      Fabrizio Federici
    • Chapter 11. Getting the Benin Bronzes Back to Nigeria: The Art Market and the Formation of National Collections and Concepts of Heritage in Benin City and Lagos 220
      Felicity Bodenstein
    • Chapter 12. What Future for Looted Syrian Antiquities? The Clash between the Law and Practice for the Repatriation of Cultural Property to Countries in Crisis 242
      Erin Thompson
  • Conclusion. Unfinished Projects of ‘Decentring’ Western Museum Practices 266
    Felicity Bodenstein, Damiana Oţoiu and Eva-Maria Troelenberg
  • Index 285

Informations pratiques

  • Éditeur : Oxford ; New York : Berghahn
  • Date de parution : 2022
  • Description matérielle : 1 vol. (306 p.) : 16 ill.
  • Bibliogr. Index
  • ISBN 978-1-80073-423-4 : 135 $. – ISBN 978-1-80073-424-1 (eBook)


  • Absent en France (juin 2022)

OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
Olivier Jacquot (11 décembre 2022). Parution : Contested Holdings : Museum Collections in Political, Epistemic and Artistic Processes of Return. Amoxcalli. Consulté le 24 juillet 2024 à l’adresse

Olivier Jacquot

Chargé de collections : manuscrits des fonds américains, Service des manuscrits ORientaux (SOR), département des Manuscrits (MSS), Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF)

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