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Fight against "racism": Anthropology Museum in Oxford removes shrunken heads from exhibition

OXFORD. The Pitt Rivers Anthropology Museum in the English city of Oxford has decided to no longer exhibit its collection of shrunken heads and other human remains. The measure was part of a comprehensive examination of the colonial legacy of the museum, it said. This step is exemplary for the decolonization of other institutions in Great Britain.

A survey of the visitors showed that they rated some of the exhibits as evidence of the cruelty and primitiveness of other cultures. The exhibits would have fueled “racist and stereotypical ways of thinking” instead of conveying a deeper mutual understanding. That contradicts the current values ​​of the educational institution.

Museum wants to return shrunken heads
Shrunken heads, so-called tsantsas, were made and preserved by some indigenous people of South America from the heads of killed enemies. The items in the Pitt Rivers belong to a 130 year old collection and are now in a warehouse. The items are be brought back to South America.

In addition, the museum wants to establish contact with the descendants of ethnic groups around the world in order to advise on how to deal with other objects from their culture. At the former exhibition space of the pieces, information can now be found about why the removed exhibits are associated with racist ideas of superiority and inferiority.

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