Colonized Objects and Bodies in Europe

Colonized Objects and Bodies in Europe

New challenges and new perspectives on the De-colonialization of Cultural Heritage 


  • Organizer: Coimbra Group, Working groups Heritage and Development Cooperation; Jeremy Upton (Edinburgh), Giuliana Tomasella (Padova), Julien Bobineau (Würzburg) 
  • Format: conference at the University of Würzburg (Germany) 
  • Date: 24th and 25th of June 2022 

In both the ex-colonial and the ex-colonized worlds, visions of Africa and its colonial past have become incarcerated in stereotypes, dichotomies, and historical misrepresentation. Especially in European Cultural Heritage, we see a mixture of these ambivalent subjects and habits of lack of self-searching. But the restitution debate in Europe on cultural objects from Africa (Sarr/Savoy 2018) and the Black Lives Matter movement, which also reached Europe in 2020, have set the course for a questioning of the colonial essence of Cultural Heritage. Recent questions about history politics, cultural memory and cultural traditions are now also – and above all – debated in public. Museums, Cultural Heritage institutions, Universities with their collections and their self-image are now more than ever in the spotlight of the dynamics of a global debate. In the course of the conference, we aim to discuss the following questions: 

– How can Cultural Heritage be decolonized in science, society, politics, and institutions to avoid ideological extremism? 

– Are there national differences and similarities in Europe? 

– Who are the actors and networks involved in defending the status quo or in decolo-nizing Cultural Heritage? 

– What are the direct and indirect consequences of unreflect and stereotypical Cultural Heritage in Europe? 

– How can the ‘decolonialization of Cultural Heritage’ contribute to the field of devel-opment cooperation with the African continent? 

The conference will be organized within four sessions: 

1. Historical misrepresentation: The concealment of colonial history in Cultural Heritage 

2. The survival of Stereotypes: Reflections on the Imaginary within Cultural Heritage 

3. University’s collection: Current states and new approaches 

4. European Museums: Restitutions and new displays 

The conference is organised under the umbrella of the Coimbra Group, an association of long-established European multidisciplinary universities of high international standard. 

 Abstracts of max. 300 words and a short bio of max. 200 words should be sent to julien.bobineau(at)uni-wuerzburg and giuliana.tomasella(at) by 30 September 2021. 

UMAC-UNIVERSEUM 2021 now accessible

The roundtables, oral papers, meetings, workshops and keynote addresses are now accessible to everyone in UMAC YouTube channel.

Look for them under the playlist ‘Highlights from UMAC-Universeum 2021’. The chats and live transcripts will be made accessible au fur et à mesure, in this website.

New issue of UMACJ is out

Volume 13, No. 1 of the University Museums and Collections Journal is out. The issue comprises the book of abstracts of the 2021 UMAC-Universeum annual conference.

It was edited by Maria Economou, Andrew Simpson, Marta C. Lourenço, Nathalie Nyst and Sébastien Soubiran.

Full access here.


UMAC Guidelines on Restitution and Return: Discussion is now open

As a result of UMAC’s project ‘The Ethics of Restitution and Repatriation’ (ICOM Special Projects), coordinated by UMAC Vice-Chair Steph Scholten, a draft version of the Guidance for Restitution and Return of Items from University Museums and Collections has been released for public discussion.

The draft Guidance has been prepared with the collaboration of Universeum, EthCom, ICME and ICOM Australia. It compiles recent sources dealing with restitution, as well as policies and procedures (re)developed in the past few years, including feedback from a range of experts.

This draft Guidance was presented by Steph Scholten on 3 September at the UMAC-Universeum 2021 Annual Conference and a roundtable followed.


Feel free to give your feedback to steph.scholten(at) before 30 September.


21st UMAC Annual General Meeting

The materials for the 21st UMAC AGM, scheduled for Friday, 3 September 2021, 10.30 AM Lisbon/London time, have been released:

  • Agenda
  • Invitation Letter
  • President’s report
  • Minutes of the 20th UMAC AGM

Consult them here.

According to the ICOM statutes and UMAC bylaws, all UMAC members in good standing can participate in the annual general meetings.

SJTU-T.D. Lee Science and Artworks Competition 2021

Call for Proposals 

Liquid crystal in its crystal state under a polarized-light microscope. Photo: Alamy.

The SJTU T.D. LEE Science and Art Lecture Fund of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (hereinafter referred to as the Science and Art Fund) was established in 2013 to promote the integration of science and art and carry forward the spirit of science and art. The Science and Art Fund would organize a Science and Art Works Competition every year to encourage the creation of works of art based on scientific themes, and select outstanding scientific and art works from around the world to organize special exhibitions after review and evaluation. So far, 7 science and art works competitions and exhibitions have been successfully held. 

Read more about the competition, dates, awards, etc here.

Competition website, Shanghai Jiao Tong University T.D. LEE Science and Art Lecture Fund  here.