Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Naga scholar on repatriation of human remains

A Naga Social Anthropologist Dr. Salome Zhimomi, who has been living in Australia for over three decades, has expressed her views over published materials on the reported move by some Naga research scholars to repatriate human remains of Nagas from the Pitts River Museum in London.
Dr.Salome based her observations in her article titled: “ Repatriation of Naga Ancestral Remains: An Intriguing Discourse” with regard to the overview on “ The Journey from the heart: Naga Repatriation and Healing of The Land”, published in some media.
According to Dr. Salome, the very title of the researchers “Journey from the Heart: Reflections on repatriation of Naga ancestral remains” is undoubtedly a very catchy topic and would generate some interesting academic discourses for rising young Naga scholars, especially through contemporary concepts on colonization, colonialism, coloniality and decolonization.
She expressed reservations about the project for repatriation established in Nagaland over an initiative by Pitts River Museum England, which is being turned into an academic discourse in Nagaland. Dr. Salome said that having lived in Australia for nearly three decades, she noted that the Naga repatriation project seemed to “involve a false equivalence of differing indigenous histories around the world-particularly the journey of the aboriginal people of Australia”.
Dr. Salome said such concepts as contained in the Naga repatriation project are “imported into the Naga discourse to describe history and experience.” She also said this was a “false equivalent for the Naga researchers to import external pedagogy born out of others’ historical pain and trauma and inject that into the Naga community’s discussion of its own affairs”.
Dr.Salome said such misappropriation of other people’s intellectual knowledge was deeply disrespectful for us and our own unique stories about decades of suffering and trauma that Nagas bore at the hands of the Indian military.”
She concluded that if the process of repatriation of Naga cultural remains is to be done, it should be on a collaborative approach of Naga communities and government agency such as State Museum of Art and Culture department.


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