Webinar: The ‘Soul of Our Nation’: Restitution of Khmer Antiquities
Date and Time: Oct 6, 2022 | 03:00 PM in (London Time)
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What does it mean to stake a claim for the ‘soul of a nation’? How does a statue embody a nation’s soul? If such claims underpin Cambodian restitution campaigns today, how do restitution processes themselves inform such claims? How does the equation of ancient statuary with the soul of the nation on politicized public fronts intersect with practices on the ground? If a sculpted stone is experienced as living, is there a point at which it can be said to die? Can it be brought back to life? What relations maintain between the emotive and the rational in restitution work? Does the reality and rhetoric of restitution divide the national from the international, or does it promise to unite them in some decolonial future?
The work of restitution is arduous, integrating political, legal, archaeological, art historical, ethnographic and museological expertise on national, regional, and international registers. As restitution campaigns have accelerated, a Cambodian governmental Restitution Team has been consolidated, going from strength to strength. SOAS is honoured to host this Team for an afternoon of discussion around these questions.