Maqdala 1868/London 2018
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On 5 April 2018, the exhibition “Maqdala 1868” opened at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Comprised of treasures looted from Ethiopia, the exhibition raises ongoing controversy about treasure ownership. In the case of Ethiopia, what is important in this controversy is the fact that the question of ownership is linked to the question of memory: whose story should be remembered through these treasures? What does the title of the exhibition, “Maqdala 1868”, stand for? Maqdala is a ruined capital of Ethiopia where 23,000 well-armed British and Indian soldiers looted and burned the national treasury of Ethiopia. Yet, the displayed articles in London are not just the spoils of war. As artistic, intellectual and cultural assets, they have meaning beyond their relationship with Britain’s imperial history.
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