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Simulacra and Repatriation: A Case Study of Decolonising The British Museum

Part 2 Project 2023
Louise Weston
Queen's University Belfast | UK
‘it shall be the duty of the Trustees of the British Museum to keep the objects comprised in the collections of the Museum within the authorised repositories of the Museum’
The British Museum Act (1963)

This thesis explores authenticity and decarbonisation regarding heritage and global tourism, to contribute towards decolonising and decarbonising the British Museum (c6M visitors annually prior to 2020). British Museum trustees have been criticised as being ‘the world’s largest receivers of stolen property,’ (Alberge, 2019) highlighting the need to acknowledge historical injustices inflicted upon colonised nations during the British Empire. The thesis demonstrates how architecture possesses the capacity to stimulate political discourse and instigate social change through built and unbuilt design proposals.

Displaced authenticity proposes that simulacra can hold equal value to the original, affecting architectural intention and politics, tourism and cultural consumption. The thesis uncovers the degrees to which authenticity serves as an instrumental and influential factor in the public reception of art and how this influences tourism. The growing significance of the replica facilitates repatriation of disputed artefacts, through communities and nations reclaiming their cultural heritage, reducing demand for global tourism (and its carbon footprint), embedding decarbonisation and social justice in the production of architecture.

Louise Weston

Tom Jefferies
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