Daily Archives: May 9, 2022

Planetary Boundaries – ECONOMICS Part 3

May 11 2022

Mainstream economics ignores the impact of economic activity on the natural environment. Ecological economics recognizes that the human economy exists in a larger planetary system, and that destroying the natural environment will affect future well-being.

In [ECO]NOMICS part 3, Professor Schor shows how human economic activity has exceeded the reproductive or sustainable capacity of the planet over the past half-century. Ecosystems have been worn down by deforestation, destruction of species, depletion of material reserves and destabilization of the climate. Humans are destroying these ecosystems at a dizzying, unsustainable and accelerating rate. Capitalism has certain features – most notably pressure to grow – that make a change of trajectory all but impossible in this context. Conventional economic policies are lured by the hope they can still maintain economic growth while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions. But Professor Schor shows how decoupling growth from emissions is a mirage. Wealthy countries cannot grow their way to sustainability. We need to enact structural changes and consider alternative approaches that reduce climate disruption and improve well-being.

Part 4 will be available May 18, 2022

Learn more at https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspec…

Credits: Juliet Schor, Matthew Kulvicki, Nick Alpha, Gonçalo Fonseca, Kurt Semm

Is Irish Reunification on the Horizon? Sinn Féin Wins Historic Victory in Northern Ireland Election

May 9 2022

In a historic victory, the Irish nationalist Sinn Féin party has won the most seats in Northern Ireland’s parliament for the first time ever. Sinn Féin is the former political wing of the IRA — the Irish Republican Army — and favors reunification with the Republic of Ireland. The party won 27 of 90 seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly, while the Democratic Unionist Party, which wants to remain in the United Kingdom, dropped to second place for the first time in decades with 24 seats. We speak with journalist and political activist Eamonn McCann, who says Northern Ireland was founded over a century ago so that “it could be guaranteed that there would always be a unionist majority.” That arrangement has now been shattered, he says, and the calls for Irish reunification are likely to increase if Sinn Féin wins government in the next election in the south. “The more the tide toward a united Ireland increases, the more alarmed the unionists will become,” says McCann. We also speak with Sinn Féin lawmaker Mairéad Farrell, who represents the Galway West constituency in the Republic of Ireland parliament and who says the party’s victory came after a “positive campaign” focused on people’s everyday needs.

Benin and Liverpool exhibition to confront colonial history – BBC News


Ornate carvings and sculptures were looted by the British as the African city fell

A museum is to exhibit artworks which were stolen during the sacking of Benin City to “proactively confront questions about Britain’s colonial history”.

The African city was destroyed by the British in 1897, with troops looting carvings and sculptures as it fell.

Liverpool’s World Museum said it would be exhibiting 21 works “directly or indirectly” linked to the sacking.

Executive director Janet Dugdale said putting the display together had been “challenging, creative and rewarding”.

Benin City, the seat of the Benin Empire, stood in what is now Nigeria and was sacked by the British during a punitive expedition in 1897, with thousands of religious and cultural artefacts being sent back to Britain.

…(read more).

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How UK museums are responding to Black Lives Matter – BBC News

By Will Gompertz
Arts editor

Published 29 June 2020

BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz asks whether museums will change their collections

When museums in the UK start to reopen next month it will be to a new world: not just one of social distancing and mask-wearing, but one possibly entering a different cultural epoch.

The death of the African-American George Floyd was followed by global protests for social justice and racial equality. Anger directed at statues memorialising controversial individuals from Britain’s colonial past has put a spotlight on museums and their collections, in what some are seeing as a generational shift in attitudes.

Many museums have expressed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, but what actions will follow the words for those institutions with links to Britain’s imperial past?

Professor Dan Hicks is a senior curator at the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford, a sprawling anthropological collection containing around 600,000 objects from just about every country on the planet.

It was shortlisted for the prestigious Museum of the Year award 12 months ago, an accolade bestowed, in part, for the revisionist work Hicks has been conducting on the Pitt Rivers collection for the past four years.

Hicks and his colleagues have been re-evaluating, re-contextualising and re-presenting many objects from the perspective of the culture from which they came, as opposed to that of the white, British, Victorian man whose ethnographic collection founded the museum.

Hicks is a leading voice among museum professionals calling for the return (restitution) of contested cultural objects that are currently held in the UK’s national and local municipal collections.

The most problematic artefacts, he says, are those stolen, looted or removed by the British from their place of origin where the local people had been subjugated.

The Pitt Rivers Museum contains around 600,000 objects

“In this country you’re never more than 150 miles away from a looted African object,” Hicks says.

The UK’s museums have received restitution requests from Australia, Asia and South America. But it is those from Africa that are coming under the greatest scrutiny, according to Hicks.

“We need to think very hard about objects [from Africa]. Where it is clear they were taken as trophies of war and however well you rewrite labels and re-tell history, you’re not going to be able to tell a story other than one about military victory. In those cases, we need to work towards a restitution process.”

Hicks says he is confronting the uncomfortable truths of colonial Britain and an empire built on slavery and the suppression of indigenous peoples across the globe.

There are some potential visitors within the catchment area of the Pitt Rivers, he reports, who have told him they will not set foot inside the museum because it is “too violent” – a reference to objects on display that were taken as spoils of war.

“This is very specifically about a period of time when our anthropology museums were used for purposes of institutional racism, race science, the display of white supremacy. At this moment in history, it could not be more urgent to remove such icons from our institutions.”

Of these, the so-called Benin Bronzes, or Benin treasures, are the most high-profile example of looted artefacts, taken by British soldiers following a punitive and murderous raid on the ancient Kingdom of Benin (in modern-day Nigeria) in 1897.

Benin Bronzes being looted in February 1897

There is no question in Hicks’s mind that the Benin Bronzes should be returned. It is a point of view shared by the British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, who thinks those held by the British Museum should be 3D-printed and displayed in London, while the originals are returned to Nigeria.

“It is a matter of respect and being treated equally. If you steal people’s heritage you’re stealing their psychology, and you need to return it,” he says.

Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, does not agree. While he accepts that a request has been made by Nigeria for the return of the Bronzes, he doesn’t believe their ownership should be transferred back.

He thinks a better way forward is through a close collaboration between the British Museum and its counterparts in Nigeria, to whom he would loan the Benin Bronzes for long periods of time.

This is a conversation that is currently in progress and would include, he says, a broader exchange of ideas and knowledge.

The playwright Bonnie Greer was the deputy chair of the British Museum for four years and is familiar with the controversy surrounding the Benin Bronzes.

“I’m comfortable with them there [in the British
Museum],” she says. “What they do for me, as a descendant of enslaved people, is they give me comfort and a link.

“I look at them and I can see myself… What I find when I see African objects in a Western museum… I get solace.”

…(read more).

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The man who returned his grandfather’s looted art – BBC News

By Ellen Otzen
BBC World Service

Published 26 February 2015

At the end of the 19th Century British troops looted thousands of works of art from the Benin Empire – in modern-day Nigeria – and brought them home. One soldier’s grandson inherited two bronzes but recently returned them to their original home.

“It’s an image that’s deeply ingrained in my memory. The dead body seemed unreal. It’s not a picture you can easily forget,” says Mark Walker.

He was 12 years old when he first saw his grandfather’s diary – the photographs inside made a deep impression.

“They were very faded, but perhaps the most shocking one for me was a partly dried-up body being held up by two men on a pole.

“Clearly the people lifting the body didn’t actually want to touch it and that seemed to me to capture the feeling my grandfather also had about them. It was something so horrible you wanted to keep it at arm’s length,” says Mark.

The pictures were taken by his grandfather, Capt Herbert Walker, in West Africa in 1897.

…(read more).

Benin Bronzes: ‘My great-grandfather sculpted the looted treasures’ – BBC News

On the bustling streets of Nigeria’s Benin City, residents cannot wait to get their Bronzes back – for them their return symbolises reparations for some of the wrongs committed by British troops during the colonial era.

A statue of a cockerel is one priceless artefact soon to be welcomed home, after Jesus College handed it over to a delegation from Nigeria at a ceremony at Cambridge University on Wednesday.

It is one of thousands of metal sculptures and ivory carvings made between the 15th and 19th Centuries and looted by British troops in 1897 from the West African kingdom of Benin, in modern day Nigeria’s Edo state.

The Benin bronze cockerel was given to Jesus College in 1905

“I feel happy that the work of my great-grandfather will be coming back to Benin,” says Monday Aigbe, who, like his ancestor, is a sculptor.

He runs a foundry in Benin City, the capital of Edo state, where his craftsmen work quietly on brass statues.

The skilled workers fashion a myriad of shapes out of metal, including busts of the Oba – the title of the traditional king of Benin – as well as statues of animals and carved doors.

…(read more).

A guide to Africa’s ‘looted treasures’ – BBC News

23 November 2018

During colonial rule in Africa, thousands of cultural artefacts were plundered. African countries want them back and major museums across Europe have agreed to loan the famous Benin Bronzes back to Nigeria. Now France has launched a report calling for thousands of African art in its museums to be returned to the continent.

…(read more).

Dr Delton Chen | Ministry for a Living Systems Economy

Nick Breeze ClimateGenn

Premiere in progress. Started 12 minutes ago

Dr Delton Chen – Ministry For A Living Systems Economy

In this ClimateGenn episode I speak with Dr Delton Chen, the originator of the ‘Chen Paper’ concept made famous by Kim Stanley Robinson in his book, Ministry For The Future.

Delton is an engineer by training but has take almost a decade out to study economics to see if his Carbon Reward Coin concept, the idea of a reward for mitigating carbon, could provide the missing link needed to rebalance the human economy.

The Global Reward Coin would be backed by central banks around the world in order to provide stability and a mechanism to account for what he calls, The Living Systems Economy.

By making a comparative analysis of this concept with other economic proposals, Delton asserts that de-growth and circular economy proposals are inadequate to solve the climate emergency when placed in the context of the current paradigm of human civilisation.

Please do comment or send feedback as I will be interested to hear what people think. Also, thank you for listening and subscribing. If you do want to support this work then please share the episode on whatever available channel, or you can back it on Patreon.


Nigeria’s Looty seeks to reclaim African art in digital form – BBC News


21 hours ago

In our series of letters from African writers, Nigerian novelist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani writes about a new initiative to reclaim artwork looted from Africa by colonial powers.

What if Africans somehow managed to access museums across the Western world, gather all the artwork looted from their territories during the colonial era, and take them back home?

A young Nigerian man is attempting to do just that. But rather than physically breaking into museums and carting away the works of art, he wants to repatriate them digitally.

“This is the first digital repatriation of stolen artwork,” said 34-year-old Chidi, a Nigerian creative designer and founder of Looty, who declined to give his surname because, he said, he wants people to focus on his project and not his person.

“I had this idea that: Why don’t we take back the physical works of art into the digital world?”

The idea of Looty first came to him following the growing conversations around non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which claim to provide public proof of the ownership of digital files.

While the legal rights conveyed by NFTs can be uncertain, they are becoming increasingly popular.

The NFT of the first tweet by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey sold for $3m (£2.4m), and another of the arrest warrant for South Africa’s late anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela raised $130,000 at an auction.

The NFT conversations are happening at the same time that there is increased agitation for the return of artwork stolen from Africa by European colonisers.

“We were talking about provenance and ownership of the pieces. What if I was able to take them back and turn them into NFTs?” Chidi said.

The process of repatriating the artwork starts with researching potential pieces for Looty, then going to museums to scan them using special apps on mobile phones.

Afterwards, the images are downloaded on to laptops and the complicated process of converting them to 3D begins, using special apps and technology.

“To be honest, it is almost like we are re-sculpting the artwork again,” Chidi said. “One piece can take like a whole week to finish, maybe more.”

Benin Bronzes digitally created

The Looty website will be formally launched on 13 May, but the work began in November 2021.

While Chidi is the founder, he works with two other Nigerians and a Somali.

Each member of the team specialises in 3D design, NFT technology or editing, but they have all visited museums in the UK and France to capture images of the artwork with their mobile phones.

So far, they have managed to create about 25 different pieces, including some of the famous Benin Bronzes that once decorated the royal palace of the kingdom of Benin in what is today Nigeria, and have their sights set on many more.

More about Africa’s looted artwork:

Chidi says he is aware that the word “Looty” is linked to “looting”, which is an act of violence, but points out that there is a deeper meaning to his choice of name for the project.

In 1860, a British serviceman, Captain John Hart Dunne, returned to England from Peking (now Beijing) with an unusual dog which he presented to Queen Victoria as a gift for her “royal collection of dogs”.

Named Looty in reference to its origins, the famous dog that sometimes sat for paintings and sketches by acclaimed artists, was reportedly taken after the British sacked a royal palace in Peking.

Looty was one of the first in the UK of what became known as Pekinese dogs, and lived in Windsor Castle until its death in 1872.

In 2018, rumours were rife in the media of the Chinese government’s involvement in a wave of art heists that targeted Chinese art and antiquities in the West.

The Chinese government denied these claims, even after one of the stolen artwork re-appeared on display at an airport in Shanghai.

“Before the British were looting artefacts in Africa, they had already made a fortune from the things they stole from China. In choosing the name ‘Looty’, I am referencing that, but also referencing the dog that was given to Queen Victoria,” Chidi said.

“Even though we are called Looty, we are doing it in a non-violent way and also a legal way.”

Chidi’s vision for Looty is two-fold. First is repatriation, which reclaims the stolen artwork and links them with local museums in Africa, arts organisations, and Africans in general whom he describes as “the original owners of these pieces”.

Second is reparation, aimed at helping artists across Africa, whom he believes also had opportunities for inspiration stolen from them by the British looters.

“If you live in maybe Benin and you want to be inspired by the artwork that comes from your ethnic group, first you need to apply for a visa, then buy the ticket for a plane, get to England and book hotels. You then go and view the artwork. There are not many people who are going to be able to do that,” Chidi said.

‘Building a metaverse’

Chidi hopes that viewing the artwork on Looty will not only inspire African artists at home, but also that the sale of the artwork will make funds available for local artists to advance their craft.

NFTs of artwork on the website can be purchased only with cryptocurrency.

“The token is basically a digital contract. On purchase of any pieces of artwork on Looty, 20% of that will go to the Looty Fund. From that fund, we are going to start giving grants to artists from the continent. We will donate money and equipment for artists to use,” he said.

While Chidi hopes that all the activism will eventually lead to the return of every single piece of artwork looted from Africa by the colonialists, he continues to dream of an alternative.

“I want to build our own metaverse where these pieces will live and can live,”  he said.

…(read more).

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