Why are Naga remains in a UK museum?


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The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, England, has the largest collection of Naga material culture in the world (around 6466 items), including the human remains of Naga ancestors. Anthropologists Dolly Kikon and Arkotong Longkumer have been working as part of a community-led initiative to ensure the return of the Naga ancestral remains to their rightful home in Nagaland. Through this project, Dolly and Arkotong say they are discovering how Indian mainland scholars have also used and abused Naga ancestral remains in similar ways and that some Indian museums continue to store them.

In this episode of The Suno India Show, host Suryatapa Mukherjee spoke to Dolly and Arkotong to learn more about this path-breaking work. This is the first time that repatriation of ancestral human remains have been initiated in India and even Asia, for indigenous people. Dolly Kikon is a Senior Lecturer in the Anthropology and Development Studies Program at Melbourne University, and a Senior Research Associate at the Australia India Institute. Arkotong Longkumer is Senior Lecturer in Modern Asia at the University of Edinburgh, and Senior Research Fellow at the Kohima Institute in Nagaland.

Morung Lecture XIV: Naga Ancestral Remains, Repatriation and Healing of the Land
The Unfinished Business of Colonialism: Naga Ancestral Remains and the Healing of the Land | MorungExpress
Critical Changes | Pitt Rivers Museum
Pitt Rivers Museum | Oxford and Colonialism
Working Towards Return with the Pitt Rivers Museum
Return Reconcile Renew

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1. How the conversation started (00:03:38)

2. Where the human remains come from (00:05:45)

3. Lasting impact of colonisation (00:09:48)

4. Naga remains in India (00:14:39)

5. After the ancestors return (00:16:42)

6. Discovering new facts of history (00:19:11)

7. Sharing these discoveries (00:23:28)

8. Process of repatriation (00:30:14)

9. Closing thoughts (00:34:20)

10. Sources for more info (00:37:10)

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