Repatriation from Scottish Museums: A Short Report

Neil G.W. Curtis,

Steph C. Scholten


Scotland’s museums include many collections that are the result of Scotland’s involvement in the British Empire. These include items that were fairly and legally collected, but also include items that were acquired as military loot, those that reflect power imbalances in favour of collectors, and ancestral remains that were acquired to demonstrate theories of racial supremacy. This past has left problematic legacies that museums in Scotland are now addressing, including by their involvement in repatriation. This paper reviews the repatriations that have taken place since 1990, noting a focus on the return of ancestral remains and the recent increase in the number of cases. It also considers the legal, political, and cultural backgrounds to the decisions, including how international moves towards decolonization and aimed at addressing racism in museums are interacting with Scotland’s own complex relationship with colonialism as well as the political debate about the identity and future of the nation.

Słowa kluczowe: museums, colonial restitution, repatriation, decolonization, Scotland

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