Paradigm Shift and Changed Procedures

For years, there have been calls for the redress of colonial wrongs and the return of objects and human remains to formerly colonised societies. This has led to a self-reflection of Europeans with their own colonial past and the associated domination and degradation of other cultures. Consequently, a paradigm shift has taken place with regard to the ownership of objects and dehumanisation in the case of human remains. Due to this change in mindset, attempts are now being made to come to terms with the colonial past through intercultural dialogues and cooperation with the societies concerned. Subjects such as cultural and social anthropology were partly enmeshed in the colonial contexts of exploitation and power. Forced by the global decolonisation processes, and by reorientations in the subjects themselves, they too are now dealing with the "bodies in their basement".
As part of these changes, the way the collections are handled has also changed. They are now placed in their context. Their origin, the embedding in the orientation of the subject and the way the objects were collected are critically questioned. The aim is to deal with these historical remains in a morally responsible, respectful and ethical manner. This is especially true for human remains. If possible, these sensitive objects should once again become subjects that teach us a lot about different cultures.
Interview with Igor Eberhard, Head of Collections ICSA.
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