Statue de Bourdelle au Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Alger, DR.

For the 15 years now, demands of return, repatriation and restitution of artefacts stolen during the colonial period have been an endless diplomatic issue between former colonised and colonisers in Africa. How objects of cultural heritage became subjects of conflict?

Not all Africans countries claim for their ‘looted’ heritage, North African countries (Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco) barely asked for cultural artefacts to be repatriated. This article explains that difference through the analysis of 50 years of cultural policies in a post-colonial context. It raises questions that help reformulating the dead-end of the question of restitutions. How that difference enlights the relationship between the part (the object in exile) and the all (the heritage in situ)?
This complete article (in French) is now  on line on revues.org:

Jean-Gabriel Leturcq, « La question des restitutions d’œuvres d’art : différentiels maghrébins », L’Année du Maghreb [En ligne], IV | 2008, http://anneemaghreb.revues.org/431

Enjoy your reading*.

*I’m aware it is a very academic article. Research aims at fuelling cultural policies with new matters, doesn’t it!?

  Camille el Kareh, Self-portrait , Lebanon 1920

Camille el Kareh, Self-portrait, Zhorta, Lebanon, 1920, Collection: AIF/Mohsen Yammine Copyright © Arab Image Foundation

I work now as a Research Associate for the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut on a strategic program called the Middle East Photograph Preservation Initiative (MEPPI). MEPPI is led jointly with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the University of Delaware, the Getty Conservation Institute and the Qatar Museums Authority.
MEPPI main goal is to raise regional awareness and expertise in photograph preservation
. This initiative has three interconnected components:

– The MEPPI Survey, a survey aimed at identifying and assessing significant photograph holdings in the Arab world. Our scope also extends to collections in Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan.
– The MEPPI Courses, a series of courses, where collection keepers will be invited to learn and share best practices about photograph preservation.
– The MEPPI Symposium, where regional cultural policy decision-makers will be invited to reflect upon the importance of photographic heritage.
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