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Last year Manchester Museum and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) announced the unconditional repatriation of 43 secret, sacred and ceremonial objects to the Aranda people of Central Australia, Gangalidda Garawa peoples’ of northwest Queensland, Nyamal people of the Pilbara and Yawuru people of Broome.  This decision was seen by many in the museum sector as a sign of changing attitudes towards repatriation. As calls for repatriation increase many museums are unsure of how to go about responding to requests.  The Museum Ethnographers Group are therefore delighted to announce that they will be co-hosting a workshp with AIATSIS and Stephen Welsh (Manchester Museum) to discuss their recent work and provide guidance to others.

The event will be held at Kings House Conference Centre,   AIATSIS

12th March 1-45pm until 5pm.

Tickets are available from eventbrite.

The event is free but registration is essential.  Please not this event is only open to MEG members.  Details of how to join can be found on the Membership section of this website.

Full timetable below.

1.45-2.00 Arrive

2-2.45 Research / Engagement Process

  • What does the community engagement process look like?
  • When do you need to undertake community engagement?
  • What provenance research did you undertake and what did it involve?
  • Who undertook the research?
  • How long did the process take? What resources were required (staff, financial costs)?
  • Whose responsibility should it be to undertake the research? Is it a shared responsibility (i.e. museum and source community)?


Material in collections

  • What material is Secret/Sacred, ceremonial or gender restricted? How does a museum confirm if an item is restricted?
  • What material can be displayed, how should it be displayed, and what should be removed from public display?
  • How should secret / sacred, ceremonial material be stored?
  • How should the material be handled and by whom?
  • How does this apply to digital images?
  • What material might be requested for return?
  • Return V repatriation, meanings and implications? i.e. RoCH definition.
  • What material could be considered as potentially appropriate for co-custodianship or similar?


Cultural Protocols

  • What cultural protocols did you implement / follow as part of your research and subsequent repatriation?
  • What protocols should museums be mindful of? i.e. access / use.
  • Are there specific protocols that Institutions need to follow for certain items?
  • Confirmation of cultural custodianship / competing claims
  • What process did you undertake to confirm cultural custodianship of the requested items?
  • How did you confirm there was no competing claim to the requested items?
  • Whose responsibility is it to confirm there is no competing claim?

Repatriation Logistics / Costs

  • What was the financial cost of the return? What did this include/exclude?
  • Who covered / funded the return costs?
  • How should this be funded in the future? Whose responsibility is it? (shared, holding institution or source community)
  • Any potential funding possibilities for hosting an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander curator/intern?
  • Permit / Legislation / Regulations
  • What permits or exemptions did you acquire for the repatriation?
  • How did you identify / obtain these permits?
  • Was there any costs involved in obtaining the permits?
  • What information did you need to provide?
  • Our Research / Recent returns
  • What response/s have we received from UK institutions?
  • How do UK institutions compare with other overseas institutions and Australian institutions?

There will be the opportunity to continue discussions more informally in a nearby bar.

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