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Research The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) Research Research centres Research Centre for Arts in Society

AMMI colloquium - NIKOLAUS PERNECZKY (IZK-Technical University Graz): "African Films in European Archives: Moving Image Heritage and the Case for Restitution"

When:Tu 15-03-2022 18:00 - 20:00
Where:Exposition room, Harmonie building
flyer with programme of the AMMI colloquium

Research colloquium of the theme group Arts, Medium and Moving Images.

African Films in European Archives: Moving Image Heritage and the Case for Restitution .” by Nikolaus Perneczky, IZK-Technical University Graz


As demands for the return of Africa's artefacts from Western museums and ethnological collections are growing louder once again, what about its similarly sequestered film heritage? The call for the restitution of moving images has been articulated as early as 1958 as an intrinsic part of the process of decolonisation and indeed has been a concern for filmmakers and cultural activists ever since. Yet these longstanding reclamations have until now fallen on deaf ears: to this day, a large part of colonial and post-colonial African film heritage is held—and frequently monetised—by public and commercial archives in Europe and the US, where these important works remain largely inaccessible to African scholars and wider publics alike. While the question of restitution has long been the object of filmic mediation—from Alain Resnais and Chris Marker’s landmark essay film Statues Also Die (1953) to Ghanaian filmmaker Nii-Kwate Owoo’s groundbreaking You Hide Me (1970)—the images and sounds stored in global film archives have been almost entirely absent from this ongoing debate. Following intensifying popular mobilisations to decolonise public spaces and institutions, recent years have seen an incipient conversation among film and media scholars on colonial legacies and post-colonial fragilities in audio-visual archiving. However, much remains to be done in this emergent field at the intersection of film and heritage studies. Missing in particular is a systematic consideration of what the recently renewed call for restitution might mean in relation to the moving image. My talk will address this lacuna in historical perspective.

Contact: Julian Hanich - j.hanich