Stealing Culture

Repatriation of Human Remains in University Collections

1 September 2019, 1.30-4.30 PM

Kyoto National Museum


Duration:  1.30-4.30 PM

Short Description:

What happens when a museum unknowingly, or knowingly, has human remains and/or related cultural objects in their collection? Who should be held accountable? What are some legal ramifications for keeping the objects versus the repatriation of these collections? How does the museum start the repatriation process?

Historically human remains have been an accepted part of university museum collections for research, teaching, and display. However, with a recent heightened awareness, and questions surrounding ownership of cultural objects, the discussion of repatriation, especially of human remains, is timely. Crawford and Jackson use the United States’ Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) as the framework for a discussion and formation of an international policy for repatriation of human remains and related cultural objects. They accomplish this by focusing the workshop’s discussion on the specific policies and procedures governing university museums as they deal with the issues of human remains within their collections.

As part of their long-term collaboration focusing on how criminal law can affect museums, Crawford brings specialized knowledge in museum policy and administration as well as a background in commercial art galleries and auction houses. Jackson brings specialized knowledge in the criminal justice system, criminal investigations, and policy analysis.


Nicole M. Crawford (USA), Chief Curator and Assistant Director, University of Wyoming Art Museum, previously Vice President, Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she oversaw gallery operations including two art auctions. Her international projects include extensive work with cultural reconciliation through the display of objects in post-colonial/post-conflict societies.


Darrell D. Jackson (USA), JD, PhD, Professor, University of Wyoming College of Law, previously Assistant United States Attorney. He researches at the intersection of law; education; and race, cultural, or ethnic studies; and primarily utilize critical race theory.  He focuses on supporting historically marginalized communities’ struggles to obtain equity and equality.

Target-audience: The Stealing Culture Workshop is intended for museum collections staff, directors, and curators who have, or suspect they might have, human remains and related objects such as grave and funerary items in their collections. This will also be open to those who are interested in starting and participating in a conversation on this topic. It is not required that participants have these items in their collections. To discuss the participants’ specific concerns, the number of participants will be limited. 

Cost: This workshop is free of charge.

Limited enrollment (max. 20 participants). Advance registration is required. Please email Nicole M. Crawford  if you are interested in attending the Stealing Culture Workshop.

Other UMAC 2019 Pre-Conference Workshops