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.

Live Presentations UMAC AWARD 2021

Save the dates for the live presentation of the three nominees to the UMAC Award 2021.

23 August, 10:00 (Israel), 8:00 (Lisbon), 16:00 (Tokyo):
The Genia Schreiber Art Gallery and Michel Kikoïne Foundation
Project: Plan(e)t: Plants Think, Think Plants
Tel Aviv University, ISRAEL
Session Chair: Marta Lourenço
Live streaming here
25 August, 18:00 (US-EST), 23:00 (Lisbon), 7:00 (Tokyo, August 26):
Harvard Art Museums
Project: The Pandemic Pivot
Harvard University, USA
Session Chair: Akiko Fukuno
Live streaming here
27 August, 9:00 (Denmark), 8:00 (Lisbon), 16:00 (Tokyo) :

Science Museerne
Project: Profession and Passion. A Life in Science.
Aarhus University, DENMARK
Session Chair: Sébastien Soubiran
Live streaming here