Maasai Community Workshop
Together with Maasai collaboration partners, the A06 research team, including Paola Ivanov, Jonas Bens, Laibor Kalanga Moko and Maren Wirth, conducted a two-day workshop in Oltukai village, Tanzania, on July 1 and 2, 2022, in order to discuss community demands for an engagement with the ethnographic collections taken from Maasai country during German colonial times.
The Workshop aimed at establishing a mutual understanding of Maasai objects in the collection of the Berlin’s Ethnological Museum and discussing further steps. On the first day of the workshop, the Maasai community members were introduced to the collection pieces, the contexts in which they were acquired, and the aim of the research project. They were handed four large folders which contained a complete list of all Maasai objects in the collection of the Ethnological Museum Berlin and information as well as photographs of some of the collectors. In small groups, the Maasai participants studied the list, asked questions and voiced their perspectives. In the course of the day, the violent colonial context of appropriation came to the fore through the vibrant discussions and the exchange of knowledge between the Maasai community members and the research team.
During the workshop’s second day, the participants explored possible steps for restitution, including questions about the necessity to spiritually cleanse objects before they could be taken back by the community.