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Researches on Returns & Restitutions. Charter of Porto-Novo, Xọgbonu, Ájáshé / Charte de Porto-Novo, Xọgbonu, Ájáshé

Researches on Returns & Restitutions

Charter of  Porto-Novo, Xọgbonu, Ájáshé

(en français ci-dessous / French version below) Pour signer, cliquer ici   / to sign, click here 

Liste des premiers signataires en fin de texte

  Preamble

After decades of mobilization of African communities, countries and diaspora, the restitution of African cultural property is finally effective with the return of 27 properties to Benin and Senegal. Researchers gathered in Benin from January 5 to 11, 2022, to participate in the symposium “Restitution and return of Beninese heritage”, we salute the role of the Republic of Benin in this now irreversible movement. As mobilizations intensify and numerous restitutions are announced, the role of research on these properties, in museums, and/or with communities will be profoundly reconfigured. Hosted at the International Festival of Porto-Novo (FIP), in the heart of a living and inspiring culture, we experimented with this reconfiguration through exchanges with more than thirty communicators and one hundred and fifty participants, including one hundred holders of traditional knowledge, artists and leaders of cultural institutions. Our work focused on the knowledge, memories and rituals associated with different cultural properties, but also on the traditional, contemporary or innovative modalities of their preservation, study and transmission. We have crossed methods and results of our research on things that have already returned, on those that have not left their communities, and on those currently preserved in Western museums. We were struck by the strong synergy of the expressions of the traditional communities, the actors of restitution, the artists and the researchers. The capital city with three toponyms – Porto-Novo, Xogbonu, Ajasè – is the ideal city to affirm the need to examine in our research the plurality of points of view, fields of investigation and languages, without being satisfied with colonial denominations, archives and languages. The research programs we are conducting in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, France, Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal share common ethical, theoretical, and methodological issues. Together, we call for a renewal of scientific practices in research on restitution and return. This charter aims to share our commitment to the foundation of a multidisciplinary research field of restitution studies. Restitution studies may focus on : repatriated property, exiled property, and property that never left; the communities that created them, the knowledge and rituals associated with them, the museums, temples, and communities that house or housed them; the artists who create or recreate them; diaspora actions ; the rules, laws, norms and conventions relating to illicit or illegitimate trafficking and property transfers; the history of colonial, missionary and scientific collections and spoliations; the markets for so-called 6 African art and the creative industries concerned (tourism, series, comics, digital applications); (post)colonial museologies, mediation, cultural policies and audiences in both the North and the South; diplomatic issues; the devices and narratives generated by (requests for) restitutions. This charter is supported by researchers, and commits their research. It is also addressed to all those who collaborate, interact, and rely on the work: communities holding knowledge, cultural institutions, tourism operators, artists, economic and political worlds.

The objective of this charter is threefold:

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