Asuras in Museums
in the matter of looted artifacts, humanity has determined their fate thus far.
here we will consider South Asian objects specifically–
we have brought them into existence to be decorative, to speak to God(s), to share stories, to make our world more beautiful, to have daily functions.
the colonizer has taken them away from their land and placed them in glass boxes where they are told to explain thousands of years of history.
stolen from temples, beheaded from idols, jewels ripped from buildings, excavated from the land.
our people, too, have participated in black market sales of these goods.
it is a sad irony that the word “loot” comes from the Hindi lūṭ (लूट) coming from Sanskrit luṇṭh meaning ‘rob’.
a growing consciousness of these colonial legacies has caused many to look for a solution, a final fate for these objects. for some, repatriation is the solution, the unconditional return of the objects to their origin. but what happens when they cannot be repatriated?
instead, now we must ask:
what if these objects don’t want to be repatriated…what if they want to be liberated?!