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Contested Holdings: Museum Collections in Political, Epistemic and Artistic Processes of Return

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Volume 14

Museums and Collections

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Contested Holdings

Museum Collections in Political, Epistemic and Artistic Processes of Return

Edited by Felicity Bodenstein, Damiana Oţoiu, and Eva-Maria Troelenberg

306 pages, 16 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-80073-423-4 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (February 2022)

eISBN 978-1-80073-424-1 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook! $34.95info on epub formatRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“This is a timely book that tackles controversial, pressing issues from a range of angles in an innovatove way. The editors and authors indeed manage to reach beyond the currently predominant focus on provenance research, restitution and repatriation by foregrounding actors and challenges as well as political and epistemic aspects of appropriation and return.” • Annette Loeseke, Bard College, Berlin


Going beyond strictly legal and property-oriented aspects of the restitution debate, restitution is considered as part of a larger set of processes of return that affect museums and collections, as well as notions of heritage and object status. Covering a range of case studies and a global geography, the authors aim to historicize and bring depth to contemporary debates in relation to both the return of material culture and human remains. Defined as contested holdings, differing museum collections ranging from fine arts to physical anthropology provide connections between the treatment and conceptualization of collections that generally occupy separate realms in the museum world.

Felicity Bodenstein is a lecturer in the history of museums and heritage studies at Sorbonne University, Paris. She is also a principal investigator of the digital humanities project, financed by the Ernest von Siemens foundation, “Digital Benin” ( that will bring together data from close to 200 museums holding pieces from the 1897 British colonial expedition to Benin in their collections.

Damiana Otoiu is an assistant professor of political anthropology at the University of Bucharest. She coordinated several research projects, including Museums and Controversial Collections: Politics and Policies of Heritage-Making in Post-colonial and Post-socialist Contexts (2015-2017) and Decolonial Practices in Museum Collections (Europe and sub-Saharan Africa): Local Histories and Global Circulations (2021-2022).

Eva-Maria Troelenberg is professor for modern and contemporary art history at Utrecht University. Her main fields of interest include transcultural art and museum history, arts and visual cultures of the modern Mediterranean, Islamic art history and Orientalism.

Subject: Museum StudiesArchaeologyCultural Studies (General)


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