Book Release: “Past Heritage – Future Partnerships”

Posted on August 21, 2008


The Greenland National Museum & Archives (NKA), in collaboration with the International Work Ground for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), has released Past Heritage – Future Partnerships, edited by Mille Gabriel and Jens Dahl.

This publication is an outcome of the international Conference on Repatriation of Cultural Heritage held in Nuuk, Greenland from February 12 to 15, 2007.  Eighty-one people were in attendance representing nearly 20 different countries and indigenous peoples.  The aim of the conference was to facilitate dialog and partnership between relevant stakeholders in Greenlandic cultural artifacts, Denmark having returned 35,000 such items to Greenland over the past two decades.

The Danes collected scores of local cultural material during the Colonial Period of Greenland (1721-1979).  Greenlanders requested the return this cultural material because they, like many proponents of repatriation, desired immediate access to the physical remains of their own past.  Denmark and Greenland worked together and, to date, the National Museum of Denmark has returned approximately one-third of its Greenlandic collection to the Greenland National Museum & Archives.

This has been considered a successful repatriation initiative because Denmark and Greenland were able to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution without any legal claims being raised.  The efforts were described as “an impressive example of cooperation between a country and a former colonized territory” by UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture, Mounir Bouchenaki.  The publication release is timely in light of the claim filed by Peru yesterday in regard to Spanish coins allegedly minted in Lima during their own colonial period.

Biographies and abstracts from the 2007 conference are available on the NKA website.

Read a full description and order Past Heritage – Future Partnerships on the IWGIA website.