From August 31st to September 2nd of 2022 AFRIEUROTEXT and fresh Magazine are organizing an international symposium on the return of illegally acquired African Arti-facts in Austrian Museums.


The Restitution issue is in fact a framework, a chance for a differentiated dialogue between Africa and Europe, based on mutual respect. (See Achille Mbembe). Cultural Artifacts from African Countries kept in European Museum Institutions are a dimension of the cultural DNA of African Societies. Their captivity in European Museums and their absence in African Countries as well as the various claims of getting them back to Africa have put the debate on restitution in the center of actual political, cultural and societal awareness. European museum institutions deal with all forms of argument and tend to pass the “hot potato” of returning stolen works of art from Africa to their respective political decision-makers. However, the life of political de-cision-makers is always dependent on winning or losing legislative periods and every party fears unpopular decisions. Why should the return of looted art from Africa be held captive in such a calculated dilemma? The return of some looted art objects made by some European countries so far are courageous signs in the right direction. But let’s not be fooled by salami tactics. The development of return models and above all the clear return of stolen African art treasures is the prerequisites for that Justice and Reconciliation at the global scale and especial-ly as far as people of color and people of African descent are concerned.

This INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM is conceived and carried out by AFRIEUROTEXT Austria in cooperation with fresh, Black Austrian Lifestyle Magazine and it is creating a triple impact through the (tri)logic of Restitution – Rehabilitation and Reconciliation in the Austrian Cultural and Political Context. It seeks to raise the awareness of the Austrian Civil Society, political establishment and of the classical Austrian Institutions producing discourses on/about Africa, on the necessity of a (govern)mentality turn as far as the Restitution Issue, the Reha-bilitation of the African Subject, Justice and Reconciliation both locally and globally are con-cerned. The Restitution Issue cannot be limited on everlasting research on the provenance of the looted African Artefacts – (Provenienzforschung). This could be seen in a certain way as a strategy to lose time and at the end no concrete return of looted African Artefacts kept in Austrian Federal Museums will happen.

Speaking of African Arts, it is a misconception to ignore African Literatures, since both societal fields or disciplines are intertwined, and as well as in the Arts fields looting, dispossession, misrecognition, distortion and trivialization of what could be called “African Literatures” has happened and is still happening, especially in the enterprise of western European academic, historiographic and literary institutions to define African Literature. As far as African Art objects or subjects – kept in Austrian museums – are concerned, one should not overlook/overhear „African textualities“ that resonate and reverberate not only in a concrete work of art (e.g., a carved stone, an ebony sculpture, etc.) but also in the various manifestations of African literary genres that have shaped and continue to shape African societies. The mvet or mvett (e.g.) is trivially visually a wooden musical instrument and on display in Austrian museums among other objects, but the mvet/mvett is in fact a rich literary genre from the Beti Fang mythologies of the Central African area and the Congo Basin. One of the tasks of this symposium is also to shed light on repressed/suppressed dimensions of “African textualities”, which are often neglected and disqualified in/by European academic institutions when it comes to defining what African Literature is or is not. This also has to do with the Rehabilitation of African subjects/objects.

Proposal of contributions or papers from various fields are solicited: cultural, social and natural sciences (African Arts and Literatures, Anthropology, Political Sciences, Geography, History, Sociology, Biology, Architecture, Mathematics, Arts and Law, street/town/village Arts etc.). Multifarious activities, debates, panel discussions, exhibitions, plays, festivals, film pro-jections and workshops from different social and political fields are welcome in order to achieve not only that (govern)mentality turn but also to inspire, initiate, accompany and tes-timony concrete returns of African Cultural Artefacts kept in Austrian Museums to Africa. Your contributions should touch and address the core issues of the symposium mentioned here in order to be selected. For selected contributions there is an honorarium as an expense allow-ance rewarded at the end of the symposium. For symposium participants who arrive from abroad, travel expenses will be reimbursed, and accommodation costs will be covered. If the Covid situation does not allow large numbers of people to gather in one place, the symposium will take place online.
Kindly send your proposals for contributions to by April 30th, 2022 at 00:00 hour the latest. Telephone: 0043 650 7235099
The project coordination of AFRIEUROTEXT can only be reached by telephone again from February 9th, 2022.

This project ist supported by: