Cultural Diplomacy and the Heritage of Empire: Negotiating Post-Colonial Returns, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Cultural Diplomacy and the Heritage of Empire

Negotiating Post-Colonial Returns, 1st Edition

By Cynthia Scott


202 pages | 57 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9780815382317
pub: 2019-11-29
SAVE ~$30.00
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781351164245
pub: 2019-11-12
from $23.98

FREE Standard Shipping!


Cultural Diplomacy and the Heritage of Empire analyzes the history of the negotiations that led to the atypical return of colonial-era cultural property from the Netherlands to Indonesia in the 1970s. By doing so, the book shows that competing visions of post-colonial redress were contested throughout the era of post-World War II decolonization.

Considering the danger this precedent posed to other countries, the book looks beyond the Dutch-Indonesian case to the “Elgin (Parthenon) Marbles” and “Benin Bronzes” controversies, as well as recent developments relating to returns in France and the Netherlands. Setting aside the “universalism versus nationalism” debate, Scott asserts that the deeper meaning of post-colonial cultural property disputes in European history has more to do with how officials of former colonial powers negotiated decolonization, while also creating contemporary understandings of their nations’ pasts. As a whole, the book expands the field of cultural restitution studies and offers a more nuanced understanding of the connections drawn between postcolonial national identity making and the extension of cultural diplomacy.

Cultural Diplomacy and the Heritage of Empire offers a new perspective on the international influence of the UNGA and UNESCO on the return debate. As such, the book will be of interest to scholars, students and practitioners engaged in the study of cultural property diplomacy and law, museum and heritage studies, modern European history, post-colonial studies and historical anthropology.

Table of Contents

Introduction: the Netherlands and Indonesia: a rare success in the history of post-colonial returns

1 Colonial redress or post-colonial cooperation?: competing visions of cultural diplomacy in 1949

2 Cultural diplomacy at a crossroads: the Dutch struggle with Sukarno’s Indonesia, 1950–65

3 Cultural relations as development aid: reconciliation with Suharto’s Indonesia, 1966–70

4 Returning cultural property: continuity and change in the cultural diplomacy of the Dutch center-left, 1970–79

5 Post-colonial cultural property return debates since the 1970s: the Dutch-Indonesian case as historical lens



About the Author

Cynthia Scott is a historian and heritage scholar who earned a PhD in History from Claremont Graduate University in Los Angeles, California. Her career began at the Getty Information Institute, a former operating program of the J. Paul Getty Trust, where she managed numerous projects and helped lead a collaborative endeavor with UNESCO, the Council of Europe, INTERPOL and the International Council of Museums, that developed “Object ID”—the international documentation standard for identifying cultural objects in the event of theft.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Culture and Development

There is a burgeoning interest among academics, practitioners and policy-makers in the relationships between ‘culture’ and ‘development’. This embraces the now well-recognized need to adopt culturally-sensitive approaches in development practice, the necessity of understanding the cultural dimensions of development, and more specifically the role of culture for development. Culture, in all its dimensions, is a fundamental component of sustainable development, and throughout the world we are seeing an increasing number of governmental and non-governmental agencies turning to culture as a vehicle for economic growth, for promoting social cohesion, stability and human well-being, and for tackling environmental issues. At the same time, there has been remarkably little critical debate around this relationship, and even less concerned with the interventions of cultural institutions or creative industries in development agendas. The objective of the Routledge Studies in Culture and Development series is to fill this lacuna and provide a forum for reaching across academic, practitioner and policymaker audiences.

The series editors welcome submissions for single- and jointly-authored books and edited collections concerning issues such as: the contribution of museums, heritage and cultural tourism to sustainable development; the politics of cultural diplomacy; cultural pluralism and human rights; traditional systems of environmental management; cultural industries and traditional livelihoods; and culturally-appropriate forms of conflict resolution and post-conflict recovery.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Museum Studies
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Library & Information Science / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Colonialism & Post-Colonialism
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology