Towards Restitution and Beyond – Reflections on a Multi-layered Dialogue Regarding the Cartridge Belt of Kahimemua at the Brunswick Municipal Museum by Rainer Hatoum

Panel: Cases of Restitution 
Tuesday, 22 June, 2:15 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. (CET)


What started in 1993 with a first inquiry into the whereabouts of the cartridge belt of late 19th century Ovambanderu leader Kahimemua at the Brunswick Municipal Museum eventually evolved into an issue of paramount importance for the museum in recent years. Since then, the belt became the center of a multi-layered dialogue that extended to other related objects. Eventually, official discourses on several levels were just about being realized when the pandemic struck. It brought the whole process to a temporary halt. With the easing of conditions in sight, the museum is looking forward to revitalizing that process. As the museum is in the process of redesigning its permanent exhibition, hopes are high that matters will not simply be closed with the settling on the future of the cartridge belt of Kahimemua. Instead, the museum would greatly appreciate if the latter process will result in new modes of collaboration, facilitating a rethinking of how our common troubled history can be both commemorated and taken into a jointly shaped future.



Rainer Hatoum is Head of Collections and provenance researcher of the ethnographic collection at the Brunswick Municipal Museum (Städtisches Museum Braunschweig). He is in charge of the museum’s ethnographic collections, provenance research, and the development of its new permanent exhibition. Since 2007, Hatoum has worked in several collaborative research projects involving, among others, the Navajo Nation residing in the American Southwest and the Kwakwaka’wakw on the Northwest Coast. These projects involved different collections of song, object, and archival manuscript materials.

Selected Publictions

2010 Musealizing Dialogue. In Guzy, Lidia, Rainer Hatoum, Susan Kamel (Hg.). From Imperial Museum to Communication Centre? – On the New Role of Museums as Mediators between Science and Non-Western Societies. Würzburg, 121-136.

2011 Digitization and Partnership – The Berlin Northwest Coast Collection and the Future of the “Non-European Other” in the Humboldt-Forum. In Blätter, Andrea und Sabine Lang (Hg.). EthnoScripts – Contemporary Native American Studies, Jahrgang 13/ Heft 2/ 2011. Hamburg, 155-173.

Glass, Aaron, Judith Berman und Rainer Hatoum 2017 Reassembling „The Social Organization“. In: Museum Worlds – Advances in Research, Vol. 5 (2017): 108-132.