What we do

ACT actively participates in the Namibia initiative of the state of Baden-Württemberg. The initiative aims to establish several scientific and cultural cooperation projects between Namibian and Baden-Württemberg partners.

"Nobody gets poorer, but everybody gets richer", said Minister Theresia Bauer when the family bible and the whip of Nama leader Hendrik Witbooi were returned from the Linden Museum to Namibia in spring 2019. The current restitution debate, not only in Baden-Württemberg, but throughout Europe and on the African continent, is also about shaping present partnerships in such a way that the reappraisal of the common colonial past or history leads to a sustainable future - for both sides. This first restitution of cultural assets of the state of Baden-Württemberg has shown how extremely presuppositional exchange and dialogue with partners from the 'Global South' can be, especially in view of historical interdependencies and the desire to deal with them. Ultimately, it is a matter of assuming ethical and moral responsibility in our international relations in the best possible way. This is what the Namibia Initiative of the state of Baden-Württemberg stands for. It aims to establish several scientific and cultural cooperation projects between Namibian and Baden-Württemberg partners. This project is currently funded with 1.25 million euros. In this context, the Institute of Ethnology at the University of Freiburg under the leadership of Professor Dobler, together with the Sociological Institute at the University of Namibia, is planning an exchange between students on colonial and post-colonial science. In addition, the University of Freiburg in cooperation with the PH Freiburg (Prof. Dr. Susanne Kuss) is involved in the development and organisation of a Namibia conference in Freiburg in 2022 for the state of Baden-Württemberg.
 

ACT participates in the debate on looted art & restitution: Europe's colonial heritage in Africa

How should Europe deal with its colonial past in Africa? Since the "Report on the Restitution of African Cultural Heritage" by scholars Felwine Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy to President Macron, the debate about African cultural heritage has been reigniting in European museums: Isn't most of it looted art that must be returned? European museums have countless objects from Africa, looted by the colonial masters. Now there is much debate about their return. But there is more at stake: justice for those who have been wronged - a discourse about apologies and compensation. Yet the debate so far is still dominated by the Eurocentric perspective, by ignorance of the African museum landscape or the local significance of the artefacts, including euphemisms such as "common heritage". How can African expertise be consistently included in the negotiations? What opportunities are offered by joint research and museum cooperation to overcome the decades of deadlock in the debate? And how can the sciences approach their mediation mandate and "liberate the debate from the museums"?