In this recording of a conversation broadcast on Delfina Foundation’s monthly show on Radio Alhara, invited guests Chao Tayiana and Molemo Moilo discuss the subject of the digital restitution of cultural heritage from colonial collections.
Digital restitution is a matter of contention. Offered by some as an amelioration – a step towards the act of physical restitution, it is considered by others as a not-good-enough substitute for the original. In this conversation, Chao and Molemo explore these perspectives and yet seek to go beyond this dichotomy: exploring digital restitution neither a stop-gap, nor as a ghost of the real thing, but rather as a “monster in its own right”.
Their conversation includes a consideration of the presumed neutrality of the digital, as well the remnants of western epistemic notions of order and control of knowledge that are intrinsic to the archive and the act of archiving. Moreover, they will also discuss what digital restitution means to a continent in which access to internet and technology remains highly varied.
To have a conversation about digital restitution is also to have a conversation about digital reformulation.
This broadcast was the fourth and final part of a mini-series within Delfina Foundation’s ongoing monthly radio show on Radio Alhara. This series of broadcasts, featuring invited guests and our own residents, formed part of our autumn 2021 Collecting as Practice season.
Open Restitution Africa (ORA) is a collaborative project led by Chao Tayiana and Molemo Moiloa that seeks to open-up access to information on the restitution of African material culture and human ancestors, through research, open database development and transparency efforts. The project has a focus on African-centric engagement and African dialogue to enable restitution efforts that best serve the lives of Africans and those of the continental diaspora. The project is driven by African Digital Heritage, a Nairobi based organisation which encourages a more critical, holistic and knowledge-based approach to the design and implementation of digital solutions within African cultural heritage, and
Andani.Africa, a Johannesburg based creativity and data humanism company.
Chao Tayiana is a digital heritage specialist and digital humanities scholar. She is the founder of African Digital Heritage and is a co-founder at the Museum of British Colonialism where she leads digital engagement and documentation. She holds an MSc in International Heritage Visualisation from the University of Glasgow/Glasgow School of Art where she graduated with a distinction. Her research work explored the possibilities of embedding intangible histories in 3D digital environments.
Molemo Moiloa leads research at Andani.Africa. Based in Johannesburg, she has worked in various capacities at the intersection of creative practice and community organizing. She currently works on notions of ungovernability, social infrastructures of cultural organizing, and relationships to nature. She is one half of the artist collaborative MADEYOULOOK and co-organiser of the Open Restitution Africa project, and is one of the inaugural AfricaNoFilter Fellows 2020/2021 for this subject.