by Knut Ebeling
In the current public debate about the restitution of non-European cultural legacy, one gap (among diverse others) is especially conspicuous: the conditions of the search for the Herkunft (provenience) and provenience are systematically disregarded. Postcolonial provenience research has been pointing this out for thirty years; accordingly, the various persons who have recently expressed themselves on this topic in public media have regularly pointed out the difficulty of reconstructing Herkünfte (proveniences) and that the funding for provenience research must, of course, be increased. But the political debate, in particular, often works with an illusion of transparency based on the impression that it would be possible, “without further ado”, to reconstruct the distant and diverse Herkünfte of complicated intercultural transactions and media and to look into the past with an unobstructed view. In short: the means and media that are regularly employed for this view into the past and that are necessary for a successful reconstruction of Herkünfte are equally regularly ignored.