Repatriation, Restitution, and Reparations
Panel discussion at the British Academy
History is written by the winners, it is commonly said. But heritage-the history that we shape to our own purposes-is increasingly shaped by the losers. Culture wars embroil nations and ethnic and religious communities all over the world. Demands for the restoration of property of every kind, for the return of treasures presumed to have been conquered by force or purloined or pillaged, for recognizing the rights of those deprived of autonomy and agency, and for acknowledging and repaying harm done in times past are increasingly voiced by ex-colonial peoples, minority groups, and indigenous peoples. Moreover, such claims are more and more accepted as morally justified by the international community and the great powers who are generally considered the perpetrators of past injustices. What is sometimes dismissed as ‘contrition chic’ has become sacred writ in such agencies as UNESCO, and is accepted as ethically just in the world of scholarship.
A British Academy conversation evening between David Lowenthal FBA, University College London, Christopher Price, writer and broadcaster, and John Torpey, City University of New York Graduate Centre. Chair: Tiffany Jenkins, Institute of Ideas.