Reflections on the issue of repatriation of looted and illegally acquired African cultural objects in Western museums

  • Emery Patrick Effiboley University of Abomey-Calavi
Keywords: Terminology of heritage circulation, African cultural objects, Afro- European relations


This paper addresses the issue of repatriation/restitution of African cultural objects in Western museums by analysing the terminology used to discuss the demands of return by African states and people. After analysing these used terms which differ slightly from one another, the paper overviews the various types of cultural objects that ended up in European museums. The chapter finally discusses the destinations of the reclaimed cultural objects in postcolonial Africa by showing that not only the original contexts of these cultural objects have changed, but also that the countries asking for the return of these objects should work toward cohering identities for the benefit of all.

Author Biography

Emery Patrick Effiboley, University of Abomey-Calavi

Dr. Emery Patrick Effiboley ( is Museologist and Art Historian, and currently Head of Department of History and Archaeology, at the University of Abomey-Calavi (Republic of Benin). He was Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for the Creative Arts of Africa at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa between 2014 and 2016. Dr Effiboley has authored several articles and
book chapters in French and English among which the most recent one are ‘’Les musées africains de la fin du XIXe siècle à nos jours: des apparats de la modernité occidentale’’, Afrika Zamani, Journal of African History (2016); ‘Interrogating Museum Development in Africa: From Museum Cooperation to the Appropriation of Praxis’, in Thomas Laely, Marc Meyer & Raphael Schwere, 2018, Museum Cooperation between Africa and Europe. A New Field for Museum Studies, Bielefeld-Kampala, Trancript-Fontain Publications; ‘’Nation
Building in Contemporary Benin Republic: The Role of Art, Museums, and Cultural Heritage, in Dimitri M. Bondarenko & Marina L. Butovskaya, ed., 2019, The Omnipresent Past. Historical Anthropology of Africa and African Diaspora, Moscow, LRC Publishing House.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2343-6530