TAPAS/Thinking About The Past


'Restitution of Colonial Collections in Europe: Possibilities, Challenges, Dilemmas' 

TAPAS/Thinking About the PASt is proud to announce its conference on the restitution of colonial collections in Europe, taking place on December 2 and 3, 2019 in Ghent.  

Following the recent repatriation of human remains from Germany to the Namibian and Australian governments and French president Emmanuel Macron’s statement that the return of African objects in French museums is a ‘priority’, claims for the restitution of colonial acquisitions have gained momentum in Europe. Various social and cultural groups as well as states demand the return of human remains, archives and cultural objects in colonial collections to which they claim cultural, religious, historical or biological affinity. Yet many museums, collectors and governments continue to wrestle with restitution demands, often lacking a clear vision on the best way forward or resorting to defensive discourses. These include a legalist reasoning in which states and ethnographic museums today cannot be held accountable for crimes committed so long ago, referring to the high scientific or market value of the acquired objects or following a statist reasoning in which only claims by ‘nation states’ are valued as legitimate. This conference wants to particularly explore such motivations and the implicit philosophical convictions that underpin many restitution-claims and responses to them. More information on the venue and the full programme follows soon! 

Registration closed. For questions, e-mail 

To download the conference brochure, click here. Pour télécharger la brochure de la conférence, veuillez cliquer ici

Click here to view all practical info. 

Veuillez cliquer ici pour la version française.

TAPAS & CARAM DEBAT (4 DECEMBER, 2019, 19-21u)

'Restutitie van koloniale collecties in België: Juridisch vraagstuk, politieke uitdaging, of morele plicht?' 

Europese overheden en musea worden de voorbije jaren in toenemende mate geconfronteerd met vraagstukken over de herkomst en de teruggave van objecten en menselijke resten in Europese museumcollecties. Welke vragen tot restitutie leven er precies in België en in Congo, Rwanda en Burundi? Zijn er al officiële vragen tot teruggave geformuleerd? Welke verschillende posities leven er over restitutie in de geadresseerde instellingen en onder politici?

Op 4 december organiseert TAPAS een gratis publiek debat over deze vragen. Locatie: Blandijnberg 2, Auditorium 1 (Jan Broeckx).


'Practicing History in Super-Diverse Societies: Possibilities, Challenges, Dilemmas'

TAPAS/Thinking About the PASt is pleased to announce its workshop and reading group series for 2019-2020. 

As our societies become increasingly 'super-diverse', so do various ways to engage with the past. Within the public sphere, collective tools to deal with a ‘super-diversity’ of ‘historical cultures’ are often felt to be lacking, as is reflected in inabilities to deal with difficult (genocidal, colonial, religious) pasts and the formation of counter-histories and -identities. This specialist course will start with a theoretical introduction to the concept of ’super diversity’ in relation to history and memory, to then explore the use of history in four super-diverse 'contact zones': schools, the academy, heritage sites, and museums.

Click here to view the full programme and all practical info.

To inscribe, send an email to tapas@ugent.be

About TAPAS, an Interdisciplinary Forum for Reflection on our Relation with the Past

In the course of the last few years, there has been a growing interest in our relationship with the past in a large variety of different cultural and social areas. Examples are historical trauma studies, history and memory, history and identity, history of science, as well as the more traditional philosophy and methodology of historiography. What is special about this tendency is that is its pre-eminent transdisciplinary character. There are tendencies to reflect on our relationship with the past in many different disciplines (historiography, literary sciences, post-colonial studies, jurisprudence, philosophy of science, sociology,…), but it does not hold a mainstream position in any of them. As a consequence, researchers who are interested in reflecting on our relation with the past often find themselves isolated within their own discipline.

The aim of this forum is to change this situation by bringing together young researchers from different disciplines who work on the reflection on our relationship with the past, whether or not this relation is popular, literary or scientific or whether or not it comes from a historiographical, philosophical, post-colonial, anthropological or sociological agenda. This initiative is meant in the first place for young researchers (pre- and post-doc) working in Belgium and the Netherlands, but in principle it is open to all. The main aim of this project is to give young researchers the opportunity to share their views with their colleagues, to create a broad intellectual network, to get feedback about their own work, and to organize transdisciplinary reading groups and workshops on topics which are too uncommon in their own discipline.

TAPAS is a forum which means that there is no single goal, approach or method. The intention is to bring together different approaches and methods rather than propagate one of them.