[Marxism] Rules of Engagement | Lapham’s Quarterly

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Feb 8 06:38:19 MST 2020

A 2018 report commissioned by French president Emmanuel Macron and 
written by French historian Bénédicte Savoy and Senegalese economist and 
writer Felwine Sarr, recommended with unprecedented firmness that all 
art objects in French public museums that had been taken from Africa 
should be returned permanently. In recent months, prominent barrister 
Geoffrey Robertson has demanded the British Museum apologize for the 
crimes of empire and return the Hoa Hakananai’a, a moai statue, to 
Easter Island and the Benin bronzes to Nigeria, among other popular 
objects in its collection.

While protests, reports, and demonstrations aimed at institutions and 
benefactors have brought more candid political conversations into museum 
spaces, daily audiences tend not to be implicated in these conflicts; 
instead they are mostly encouraged to enjoy the work by whatever 
measures they can access. But if museums encouraged visitors to feel 
shame around objects carrying the legacies of colonization, slavery, 
theft, and discrimination, what might those exhibitions look like?


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