Pressing Matter - Ownership, Value and the Question of Colonial Heritage in Museums

Project: Research

Project Details


Pressing Matter is a four-year international research programme about colonial heritage and its legacies, financed by the Dutch National Science Agenda (NWA) and coordinated from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Partners are the National Museum of World Cultures, Museum Bronbeek, Museum Vrolik, Rijksmuseum, the museums of Utrecht University and Groningen University, Foundation Academic Heritage and the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Societal partners are Imagine IC, The Black Archives, HAPIN Papua Support Foundation, the Rijksacademie, Framer Framed and the Peace Palace Library, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and DutchCulture.

Layman's description

Pressing Matter investigates the potentialities of ‘colonial objects’ to support societal reconciliation with the colonial past and its afterlives, and to deal with conflicting claims by different stakeholders for these objects within museums. The project will connect fundamental theories of valuation and property to postcolonial debates on heritage to these societal debates and aims to develop and test, first, new theoretical models of value and ownership and, second, new forms of return that address but move beyond current approaches to heritage restitution, while developing a theory of object potentialities grounded in the entangled, multipolar histories in which colonial objects were collected, kept and made meaningful.
Short titlePressing Matter
Effective start/end date1/06/2130/06/25

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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