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This paper contends that the post-colonial guilt complex manifested in the debate for the repatriation of imperial acquisitions from museums and that the post-colonial superiority complex is imbedded in the reasons against the restitution of such cultural objects The Colonial Superiority Complex in Display and the Post-Colonial Guilt in RestitutionBefore museums there was the concept of a Cabinet of Curiosities which originated during the European Renaissance era It was a room typically within a private household that held various types of objects and artifacts that were collected or given as gifts from around the world serving as an encyclopedic collection Also known as the German Kunstkammer art-room or Wunderkammer wonder-room these cabinets embodied the Enlightenment-ethos of intellectual world discovery For some individuals such as rulers and aristocrats these collections served as a specific message According to Peter Thomas a Renaissance scholar of the time had commented on Charles I of Englands collection saying The Kunstkammer was regarded as a microcosm or theater of the world It conveyed symbolically the patrons control of the world through its indoor microscopic reproduction The Kunskabineett itself was a form of propagandaOften times the doors to these wonder rooms are opened for private guests to admire This was particularly applied to visitors who are from foreign countries and related to political matters In sum the exhibitions of worldly objects become symbolic visual-representations of power for both aristocrats and rulers Besides the collection of the Renaissance rulers and aristocrats the merchants and early-scientist of the time also formed a cabinet collection which served as a demonstration of power For some the democratizing of enlightening luxury-good also served as another form of propaganda The donation of public goods oftentimes serve as a socio-political capital for members of the merchant class as a means to garner more power or more political support vis--vis to the aristocrats and rulers of the time Further the demonstration of capabilities and accumulated wealth from trade
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