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Recognising Structural Racism

The last few days have seen an out-pouring of institutional statements from the cultural sector voicing solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter, in recognition of the structural racism that led to the death of George Floyd. This has included museums with anthropology collections which share clear historical complicity in the development and defence of scientific racism and its normalisation in the UK. The structural legacies of this are deep; visible in our archives, in the whiteness of our senior workforce, and the deep inequalities in relation to access, voice and ownership. 

In solidarity, MEG recognises that statements of self-declared anti-racism expose a long and embedded history of making ethical claims, and that such claim are no guarantee of action or change. We are committed to listening and responding to calls for de-colonial and anti-racist action in order to embed change within our organisation and to understand how we can best support the museums we work with. 

One way in which MEG is responding to this is by launching a resource that aims to improve transparency and provide organisational support for museums processing repatriation claims. We also hope this will be a useful resource for individuals and organisations who wish to approach museums to make claims themselves. We firmly believe that processing repatriation claims should be a core part of museum work in the acknowledgement of the complicity of museums in the colonial project, and in the drive to develop a more ethical and equitable future.