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Decolonizing Depots: The Dutch Difference


Gert Jan van den Bergh

Dealing with their colonial past beyond mere condemnation and legal semantics, Dutch Institutions and lawmakers are reaching out - and the world is watching. As a result of its colonial past The Netherlands amassed a staggering 270.000(1) artefacts over a period of several centuries. Until recently the need for restitution was not on the agenda and official policy was to hold off as much as possible. Now, amidst an increasing struggle of museums to address their colonial history, a Dutch governmental committee headed by lawyer and activist Lilian Gonçalves asks for the unconditional return of objects to their countries of origin, reaching out beyond legal semantics.

Gert Jan van den Bergh 1

1 Gert Jan van den Bergh, Partner at the law firm of Bergh Stoop & Sanders NV in Amsterdam. Auke van Hoek, associate at Bergh Stoop & Sanders NV contributed writing and reporting.


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