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French President Calls Upon the Expertise of TU Berlin Academic

Tuesday, 06. March 2018

Media Information No. 39/2018


Art historian and Leibniz prize winner Prof. Dr. Bénédicte Savoy and the Sengalese scholar, author and musician Prof. Dr. Felwine Sarr have been commissioned by Emmanuel Macron to examine under which conditions artistic works from African countries could be returned by France to their countries of origin.

President Emmanuel Macron of France announced during the official visit of Patrice Talon, president of Benin, to Paris on 5 March 2018 that a commission is to be established for the possible restitution of artworks to Africa. The responsibility for examining possibilities and forms for the potential return of artworks which have been exhibited and stored in French museums since the colonial era now lies with Prof. Dr. Savoy and Prof. Dr. Sarr. Bénédicte Savoy is professor of art history at Technische Universität Berlin and at the Collège de France in Paris.  Felwine Sarr is professor of economics at the Gaston Berger University in Senegal, as well as a poet and musician.
The two experts commissioned with this task by Mr. Macron have time until November 2018 to draft their recommendations. Key elements to be examined in this process are the conditions under which these works can be handed back to their countries of origin and how to ensure their future protection. Prof. Dr. Savoy and Prof. Dr. Sarr will engage in discussions with representatives of various groups from African states as well as France.

I am particularly grateful to have the opportunity to work with such an outstanding and multi-faceted colleague as Felwine Sarr

Bénédicte Savoy very much welcomes Mr. Macron’s decision, saying: “I am particularly grateful to have the opportunity to work with such an outstanding and multi-faceted colleague as Felwine Sarr in an area with which I have been engaged for twenty years. We are of the same generation and we share many views concerning how to achieve our mission. It strikes me as particularly important that Felwine Sarr is not only an acknowledged and successful academic but also a writer and musician.  Our mission is concerned with culture in the truest sense of the word.“
“The decision of President Emmanuel Macron of France to call upon an academic from TU Berlin to undertake this challenging task is further proof of Bénédicte Savoy’s outstanding expertise in the area of provenance research“, says Prof. Dr. Christian Thomsen, president of Technische Universität Berlin. “The debate concerning provenance is also highly topical in Germany. We can see this on the one hand in the ongoing discussions concerning the Humboldt-Forum in Berlin, as well as on a national level in the determination of the coalition partners to increase the funding for provenance research as recently established in the coalition agreement.“

Video interview (in German)

About Bénédicte Savoy


For further informations please contact:

Stefanie Terp
Spokesperson of TU Berlin
Tel.: 030 314-23922

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