by Sven Schütze
The legacies of colonialism and imperialism are keeping the European museum scene busy. At first glance, colonial amnesia seems to be overcome and museums to pave the way for postcolonial restorative justice. A second glance, though, might reveal inconsistencies and shortcomings structuring present museum work. The current debate mainly focuses on objects being looted, exchanged, extorted or bought under colonial rule, and considers the restitution of objects to former deprived communities or relevant descendants no longer a taboo subject. This is a development to be welcomed. What is striking, however, is that a sometimes narrow conception of decolonial engagement can be noted. Solely spotlighting the presence of objects, material entities and human remains as colonial legacies, these strategies fall short on challenging power hierarchies in the present. There is no colonialism without racism. But is racism a subject museums consider worth analyzing while discussing the restitution of objects?