Heritage and the Politics of Culture
In this lecture I would like to address the position of museums in society by analysing the issue of property. Who actually owns the collections? And what consequences do the various ideas about property have? After two examples by means of introduction (1), I will make some more theoretical remarks (2) to sharpen our thoughts and to show what is actually at stake. In the final part of the lecture (3) I will address the issue of property in a colonial and post-colonial context.
Usually, popular discussions about who owns colonial collections tend to stress the feeling of guilt. The former colonizer being the guilty party, with the obligation to feel guilty, and the former colonized holding the morally correct position. I hope to show that, here as well, it is not as simple as that. In doing so, I would like to draw attention to the distinction between legal property and emotional property.