[CALL FOR PROPOSALS – English Version


roots§routes is a magazine with an editorial vision announced by its editorial board, which guarantees the quality and coherence of its contents. We consider it crucial to maintain an ongoing receptivity towards any submission of quality, provided it corresponds with the final vision shared among the editors. We therefore not only solicit work from artists and scholars, but also encourage submissions from contributors working in contexts that we do not know directly.

roots§routes announces a Call For Proposals, asking artists and scholars to submit proposals, beginning with the magazine’s theme for the upcoming quarter. Submissions should be sent in the form of an abstract, with a maximum of 350 words, to the following email address: redazione@roots-routes.org, with the subject heading “Article Submission.” Abstracts written in English, Italian, French, Portugues or Spanish are acceptable. In case of interest on the part of the editorial board, an email requesting the full paper will be sent to the author of the abstract. The paper is to be written in the language of the author’s choosing.

The editorial board, upon receiving the full paper, reserves the right to request partial edits, or to reject the piece, in the case that it does not align with the earlier proposal. For those interested in submitting materials, the themes for the upcoming issue of the magazine will be announced on this section of the website.

Year XII, n°39, May - August 2022

curated by Domenico Sergi, Nur Sobers-Khan, Anna Chiara Cimoli and Giulia Grechi

In 1810, in the midst of the Napoleonic looting of art across Europe, the Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova wrote to Napoleon: «Leave Your Majesty, […] at least leave something to Italy. These ancient monuments form a chain and a collection, with countless others that should not be removed from Rome or Naples». His plea was of little use: Italy and many other countries had been stripped of hundreds of masterpieces, which after the fall of Napoleonic France failed to be returned to their rightful owners. Furthermore, as French art historian Bénédicte Savoy recalls, «when we look at our altarpieces, they weren’t objects made to be shown at the Louvre. And we should remember that, when the Louvre first opened as a museum, some people laughed at the old ladies who were praying on their knees in front of Rubens’ retables. Also, when they were returned to Belgium in 1815, they went straight back to the churches and were not displayed  in museums» [1]

Despite its very specific historical profile, it is not difficult to read in this short account of Napoleonic Europe striking similarities in the way in which European Empires in particular have systematically looted (and failed to return) material culture from their colonies around the world. 

Restitution is a hotly debated topic in contemporary museum practice, often unmasking deeply rooted colonial epistemologies. In Europe, one of the most frequent objections to restitution is the weak scientific infrastructure of the communities where objects would be returned. As if museums, and museums only, knew how to preserve objects.  But what if there is no museum at the receiving end, and would this justify not meeting those demands?

Questions of restitution are key to the attainment of social justice for marginalised communities. Crucial to this conversation are the debates around the restitution of human remains, and objects or artworks removed during colonial or nationalist projects. In this context, the history of slavery in particular is deeply entangled with the formation of archives and museum collections in both the US and North America. Of central concern to questions of restitution are also silenced narratives, whether exceptional or commonplace, and the multiplicity of archives where ritual, religious, cultural, political and anthropological matters are deeply entangled. 

In the face of clear demands advanced by those who were formerly colonized and continue to be marginalized, deceived, and blackmailed, the amnesia of cultural institutions has never greater. Even when cultural institutions engage with the restitution of contested heritages, how can we ensure such practices don’t reinforce neo-colonial ideologies?


A number of recent controversies demand us to widen our gaze and to deeply rethink museums’ role in contemporary societies. Examples are the questions raised by the so-called Macron report and the work of the Humboldt Forum in Berlin, the symbolic gesture of Emery Mwazulu Diyabanza at the Musée du quai Branly, the demonstrations of Decolonize This Place, and the topping of statues worldwide to cite a few. Furthermore, the work of indigenous scholars, and that of thinkers and writers from formerly (and currently) colonised communities demands to rethink the stories museums tell about objects, and to reimagine the role and function of cultural heritage. 

This issue aims to articulate a reflection on the concept of restitution in all its manifestations, both material and immaterial:
soothe, cure, heal
make visible

Contributions may address the processes behind the restitution of objects, collections, human remains, and artworks from any age or context. Submissions may also discuss how traces of memory are redistributed, how communities may deal with the reparation of traumas from a legal or psychological perspective. Contributions may also pertain to the renegotiation of values in the processes of mediation, and more generally any possibility of rewriting history (past and future) within a social justice framework, and discuss case studies concerning generative conflict, grassroot political mobilisation prevention, protection of rights, and care of common goods.

[1] Jana J. Haeckel (edited by), Everything passes except the past. Decolonizing Ethnographic Museums, Film Archives, and Public Space, Goethe Institut-Sternberg Press, Bruxelles-Londra 2021, p. 44.



abstract submission deadline
by 20th March 2022


publication 15th May 2022
article by 27th April 2022


publication 15th July 2022
article by 25th June 2022





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