(IntegrityPress.org) – “Reparations” is a concept where historically dominant countries give back to nations they oppressed decades or centuries ago. In the United States, some descendants of Black slaves have pushed for the government to compensate them financially for the abuses suffered by their ancestors. In the United Kingdom, activists are currently pushing for museums to return certain artifacts archaeologists took from other nations, but the scheme is controversial.
Cambridge University is returning a collection of brass ornaments known as the “Benin Bronzes” to Nigeria, following a lengthy campaign by the African nation to reclaim them. The British military took possession of the bronzes in 1897 during a trade dispute.
There's a manic air around, where every major British museum and institution wants to shed all of its great historic art and artifacts, to send them to the third world.
This is naïve beyond measure – all that this "repatriation" will lead to is thievery, destruction, and loss. https://t.co/MhnbBkU24e
— Concrete Horizon (@ConcreteHorizon) December 12, 2022
Critics have highlighted that the bronzes were originally the products of slavery. They were decorations for the royal palace in Benin City, part of modern-day Nigeria. While Britain may have acquired them unfairly, many have questioned why that’s an issue, given the morally questionable origin of the artifacts.
The precedent the move sets opens another issue. If every museum globally, like the Smithsonian in the US, returned its artifacts to their places of origin, populations who have enjoyed many culturally significant items for generations would lose all access to them.
What do you think of reparations like this?
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