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Macron opens the door to the return of african art

what will Be the museums French without the stolen objects and facts during the colonial era? A new report commissioned by the president and Emmanuel Macron defends a restitution widespread of the works of african who are part of the public collections in france. The authors of this official document, the French historian Bénédicte Savoy, a member of the Collège de France, and the economist senegalese Felwine Sarr, author of the influential essay, Afrotopia, will be delivered this Friday to Macron, who could return their recommendations to encourage a new policy of return to the african continent. The report Savoy-Sarr responds to a pledge made by the French leader in the first months of his mandate. During an official trip to Burkina Faso in November of 2017, Macron said that the return of african art would be “a priority”. “Within five years, I want the conditions to be suitable for a return of african heritage to Africa,” he said in a speech in Ouagadougou, the capital of the country. “The african heritage must be visible in Paris, but also in Dakar, Lagos and Cotonou,” said Macron.

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If the conclusions of the report end up to apply, could make an unprecedented change within the world of museums, but also a decisive turning point in the relations between France and its former colonies. The study, whose guidelines advanced this Tuesday, some French media, advocates for the “refunds perennial”, preferred option to other intermediate solutions, such as long-term loans. “Speak openly of refunds is to speak of justice, rebalancing, recognition, restoration and repair, but above all it is open the way towards the establishment of new cultural relations,” the document says.

For its authors, it comes complete with “a system of appropriation and alienation, the colonial system, of which certain european museums serve a public record, in spite of”. Even so, they warn that “to return the objects will not compensate Supertotobet for the immeasurable loss of reserves of energy and creative resources” that led to the colonialism. The operation only involved the art from sub-saharan Africa because of the impressive range of the looting that took place in its territory. According to experts, between 85% and 90% of this heritage would find outside of the continent. Only in France there are about 88.000 works from sub-saharan Africa. The vast majority are in the Museum of the Quai Branly, with its president, Stéphane Martin, has been favoured to see the return of the works to Africa.

How would this return to large-scale? Savoy and Sarr propose a calendar to Macron. Face to 2019, France will have to return a first list of 24 works to Mali, Benin, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia and Cameroon, the fruit of their plundering during the colonial wars of the late NINETEENTH century or in the missions ethnographic of the first half of the TWENTIETH century. “It will be a symbolic step, and psychological to throw a continuous process”, said the authors of the report to The Art Newspaper. After this symbolic reparation, France should deliver, in the next five years an inventory of works of african origin to each State of the continent. After that, the report proposes the creation of bilateral commissions where african countries would claim the works that you wish to retrieve. If France is not able to demonstrate that they were acquired in a legitimate way, you must return them to their country of origin. The authors recommend a “progressive process”, which fits with the “state of preparedness of african countries to host the works restored.

This return, still hypothetical, would imply a change in the laws that govern the French heritage, because these determine that the works belonging to public collections may not be sold or transferred. The authors of the report are aware that their proposals will be controversial. “The idea is not to empty the museums French. Will be many works to bear witness of that history capture heritage”, explained Wednesday in an interview published by Libération. “The story of the creation of this collection must appear in museums at the same time that works.” Sarr and Savoy even propose “making doubles” of the works that are being returned, who would not have the aura of authenticity of the original, but vehicularían a new story: the justice of a continent plundered. Of time, the Elysee has not commented on the report. Their conclusions are not binding, but force Macron to adopt a clear position in a debate that emerges from the taboos of other times.

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