Title: Why western museums should keep their treasures
Author: Tiffany Jenkins
Media Outlet: The Guardian
Publish Date: November 25, 2018
“(…) But whilst it’s true that the acquisition of many museum objects, seen through modern-day eyes, is ugly, so too is much of history. When the first wave of the Benin Bronzes was created in the 13th century, in an artistic golden age, Benin was an empire. The artists in the royal court fashioned the plaques out of brass bracelets brought by Portuguese traders, that had been exchanged for ivory, pepper – and slaves. The objects campaigners want to be returned, to apologise for colonisation, then, were crafted on the back of the slave trade. Following the logic of righting historical wrongs, aren’t these artworks tainted by that immoral practice? Perhaps the descendants of the Benin king should apologise for slavery, before they are approved as morally worthy owners of the artefacts.
With victimisation as the moral basis for the ownership of artefacts, there could be no end to competitive claim-making.”