Since April 2004, a group of researchers is investigating relevant cases of spoils of war, considered as pieces of history.
The aim of the survey program is to set up an investigation into the memory of the colonial period and its collection of artefacts, as well as the present-day effects of these events. We wil focus on present day narratives relating the colonial events, linked to context of collection of these objets.
In Nigeria, Peju Layiwola (department of Creative Arts, University of Ibadan au Nigeria) collects in situ modern family narratives related to the battle of Benin in 1897 when the town was destroyed and looted by the British colonial army. These events eventually resulted in the worldwide dispersal of at least 900 pieces of the subsequent famous Benin-Bronze.
In Mali, Issiaka Bagayadogo (anthropologist, Institute for Social Research in Bamako - ISH), carries on a survey on a sacred object called a boli used during kono ceremonies that has been taken by the French ethnologist Marcel Griaule in 1933 when the country was in process to be pacified. The vacuum caused by the loss of this object has forced the inhabitants of the region to invent new religious and political practices.
In Burkina Faso, Lassina Simpore (History and Archeology department - university of Ouagadougou) make investigations on the substantial weapon boot ceased in the Bwaba area by the French colonial troupes during the rebellions that troubled the area between 1913 and 1916.
In Benin-Republic, Joseph Adande (art historian, Université d’Abomey-Calavi, République du Bénin) investigates on the circumstances of the looting of the Dahomean kingdom by the French in 1892 and whose “treasure” has recently be claimed for restitution.
In Togo, Kangi Alem, in collaboration with Bernad Müller, collect narratives on colonial looting by displaying archive pictures to the descendants of the witnesses of these events.
In south Africa, David Coplan (anthropologist, university of Witwatersrand, RSA) will document the looting of a christian mission at Beersheba – Orange State – by a group of Boers in 1858 and the history of the remains of Sara Bartman.
In South-Korea, Jinkook Chung (art historian, «Group for People Without History» - university of Yeungnam & Jiungil, South Korea) investigates on the Kang-Hwa Island were was located the monastery that was first looted and then bombed by the French Navy in 1866. Apart from gold bullions and other fortunes, the soldiers looted 279 volumes of a description of the royal rites in the Yi dynasty which are now at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
Thierry Bonnot (IRIS, Paris) investigates on human remains and ashes of personalities that have recently been claimed for restitution (notably : the debate on the transfer of George Sand’s remains from the village were she died to the Panthéon in Paris, the remains of Ernesto Che Guevara that have been claimed for restitution by the Parliament of Argentina to the Cuban Government were the remains are presently conserved).
Patrick Prado (CNRS, Paris) investigates on the so called « Elgin Marbles » taken from the Parthenon in Athens by a British diplomat during the Ottoman occupation (1804).