Modern Art History
© Philippe Rekacewicz

Reversed History of Collections. An annotated atlas of Cameroon's material heritage in German museums

The Cameroonian-German research project (funding period 2020-2023) explored the forms and consequences of cultural property relocations from the former colony to Germany. On the one hand, the project title 'Reverse Collection History' points to the classic museum-historical dimension of the project. On the other hand, it refers to the scientific-political, methodological and theoretical claim of a research that, starting from Africa, for the first time carries out a change of perspective and asks a) about the whereabouts of Cameroon's material heritage in European countries - here in Germany - as well as b) about the traces that the absence of this heritage in Cameroon has (or has not) left behind. The joint project thus focused on the dialectic of the presence and absence of singular objects in the places where they are today (museums) and in those where they originally were.

To achieve the project's goals, a comprehensive inventory of colonial-era Cameroonian object holdings in German museums as well as their contexts of origin in Cameroon was undertaken. Such an overview of Cameroon's rich material and artistic heritage outside of Cameroon had been lacking, with the result that no precise knowledge and discourse about these collections had been able to develop in the country itself over the past decades.

The inventory was followed by an investigation of the consequences associated with the translocation of the colonial-era object collections. Through selected case studies, the reception (or lack of reception) of the objects present in German museum collections was investigated. Additionally, the consequences of the withdrawal and the permanent absence of the objects in Cameroon as well as local forms of resilience was recorded. The results of the inventory are documented in the form of an atlas of Cameroon's material heritage in German museums.

Project outcome


Mikaél AssilkingaUniversité de Dschangmikael.assilkinga@tu-berlin.deProject researcher (Post-Doc)
Lindiwe BreuerTechnische Universität Berlinl.breuer@tu-berlin.deStudent Assistant
Prof. Dr. Albert GouaffoUniversité de Dschangalbert.gouaffo@univ-dschang.orgPrincipal investigator
Yrine MatchindaUniversité de Dschangyrenematchinda@gmail.comProject researcher (PhD)
Dr. Andrea MeyerTechnische Universität Berlinandrea.meyer@tu-berlin.deProject researcher
Prof. Dr. Bénédicte SavoyTechnische Universität Berline.goulko@tu-berlin.dePrincipal investigator
Dr. Sebastian-Manès SpruteTechnische Universität Berlinsprute@tu-berlin.deProject researcher
Dr. Richard Tsogang FossiTechnische Universität Berlintsogang.fossi@tu-berlin.deProject researcher
Eyke VonderauTechnische Universität Berlinvonderau@tu-berlin.deResearch Coordination

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