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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter 2023

(Ir)reparability Begins in the Body: Towards a Museum of Disrepair

From the book Reparation, Restitution, and the Politics of Memory / Réparation, restitution et les politiques de la mémoire

  • Jonas Tinius and Angelica Pesarini


This chapter is based on a workshop we conducted with PhD candidates attending the Summer School Restitution, Reparations, Reparation - Toward a New Global Society? held at Villa Vigoni, Italy. It offers reflections on the situated and embodied experience of talking, thinking, and conceptualising repair and heritage. Starting from the work of the French-Algerian artist Kader Attia, we envisaged the possibility of a “Museum of Disrepair” and invited PhD students to analyse the impacts of such a potential site. Attia’s idea of “irreparability” was at the centre of our investigation, and we thought about the notion of “repair” in relation to the racialised body, wounded by histories of colonialism and whiteness. As the analysis shows, repairing damages does not mean to erase the physical evidence of the injury, hoping for the disappearance of the violence. Rather, it is essential to acknowledge pain and damage, and to link the injury with its visible scarification. Restitution, as we argue, is only an element of a wider discourse on reconciliation, decolonisation, and infrastructural changes to Europe’s narrative of world.

© 2023 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston
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