The colonial collecting zeal of European and North American explorers and travellers did not stop at human remains. Many of these collected items are still in the possession of museums, university collections or private individuals as they were collected in the service of science. Among other things, ideas of "white European superiority" and a racist worldview were to be legitimised. They also wanted to record allegedly "dying primitive" societies for posterity.
Research findings often served colonial exploitative interests. Today, many questions are asked in this context: Where do the objects in museums and collections come from? Is their ownership legitimate in the hands of these institutions? Can human remains be treated according to the same exhibition criteria as objects? How should they be dealt with? What does the possession of these "objects" mean for the people concerned, and their descendants?