Molemo’s Keynote at the Reimagining Heritage, Archives, and Museums: Today/Tomorrow convening

Our co-founder, Molemo Moiloa, delivered the keynote address at the Reimagining Heritage, Archives, and Museums: Today/Tomorrow convening. She candidly delves into the uncomfortable yet crucial realm of restitution, urging us to challenge our perspectives on heritage, archives, and museums.

Key Points:

  1. Historical Context:
    -She sheds light on the historical demands for the return of African possessions dating back to the late 19th century.
    -Highlights the recent surge in returns prompted by a shift in the discourse, acknowledging positive developments.
  2. Where We Are Now:
    -She explores the marginalization of African voices in the current restitution conversation.
    -She also emphasizes that restitution is not just about the return of objects but a broader commitment to repairing Africans’ connection with memory, culture, and self-knowledge.
  3. Restitution Beyond Return:
    -She argues that restitution should not only focus on returning possessions but on repairing Africans individually and collectively.
    -Challenges the distraction of focusing on the technocracy of museum practice in the Global North.
  4. Repair of African Relations/Communities:
    -Stresses the importance of prioritizing the dignity and everyday life of African communities over placing objects in museums.
    -Questions whether African museum professionals are prepared for the multifaceted roles required in restitution processes.
  5. Repair of History and Its Legacies:
    -Discusses the concept of “A New Relational Ethics” as proposed in a commissioned report.
    -Places African restitution in the context of global movements for reparations and abolitionist ideals, envisioning a commitment to repairing the legacies of history.
  6. What Is to Be Done – Remaining in Difficulty:
    -Encourages a commitment to time, relation, and difficulty in the process of repair.
    -Urges individuals to recognize that restitution is not just for others but a collective commitment to humanity’s ongoing journey of betterment.
  7. What Is to Be Done – Solidarity:
    -Explores the concept of solidarity as distillation, not dilution, emphasizing a collective identification of what brings life.
    -Challenges the misconception that solidarity requires complete agreement, emphasizing the importance of shared values.
  8. What Is to Be Done – Keeping Our Eye on What Brings Life:
    -Highlights the importance of focusing on the process of repair, staying committed to good faith engagements, and navigating the discomfort of contradictions.
    -Reminds us that repair is a continuous process, not an arrival, and requires a collective commitment to better societies.

In conclusion, Molemo acknowledges the difficulty and discomfort associated with restitution but asserts its inevitability. She calls on individuals to choose between hindering progress or making a radical commitment to repair. The address serves as a powerful call to action in the pursuit of justice and transformation.

Read the keynote address HERE, and watch the video below.

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