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Next week, a delegation of Rapa Nui people, indigenous to Easter Island, will travel to London to meet with British Museum administrators about their request to repatriate Hoa Hakananai’a. The eight-foot, four-ton statue, whose name means “the stolen or hidden friend,” was taken from the island in 1868 by Royal Navy captain Richard Powell and then bestowed to Queen Victoria.
Hoa Hakananai’a is one of nearly 1,000 moai statues carved from volcanic rock in the history of the island, each of which has a strong spiritual and cultural value for the Rapa Nui community. The statue has been housed in the British Museum for over a century and serves as one of its most popular artifacts, but the Rapa Nui people have been actively campaigning for its return.
“We want the museum to understand that the moai are our family, not just rocks. For us [the statue] is a brother; but for them it is a souvenir or an attraction,” a member of the Easter Island development commission, Anakena Manutomatoma, told the Guardian. “Once eyes are added to the statues, an energy is breathed into the moai and they become the living embodiment of ancestors whose role is to protect us.”
“To recover Hoa Hakananai’a would be great, but with time we will be asking the other countries to return our ancestors,” Manutomatoma says. Multiple moai are on display in museums across the world.
In August, Easter Island’s Mayor Pedro Edmunds wrote an official request for the statue’s return, addressed to the museum. Then in October, Easter Island’s Ma’u Henna community, supported by the Chilean government, offered to replace Hoa Hakananai’a with a replica, crafted by thousand-year-old Rapa Nui techniques and modern technology with help from Hawaii’s Bishop Museum. “Our expert carvers will make a copy in basalt, the original stone used in the Hakananai’a moai, as an offering to Queen Elizabeth in exchange for the original,” Camilo Rapu, president of the Ma’u Henua community, told reporters in Chile.
Next week’s meeting will be the first time the British Museum has offered to confer with the Rapa Nui people since the statue was first acquired from Queen Elizabeth in 1869. The British Museum’s press office says they look forward to “discussing any future proposals [the Rapa Nui and Chilean delegates] have.”
Chile’s indigenous development agency, Conadi, will help fun the delegation’s travel to the UK to bolster the repatriation endeavor. (The Island has been a part of Chile since 1888.) Chilean law indicates moai sculptures an integral part of Easter Island’s land, rather than objects.
“The Rapa Nui people want to explain to the museum’s administrators that the moai is the living soul of the island. Hoa Hakananai’a acts as their ambassador and we want that to remain the case — but we want to exchange him for a moai that will be sculpted by craftsmen on the island so that the representative is there voluntarily. This is very important,” Felipe Ward, Chile’s minister for national property, told the Guardian.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…