Looted Art and Restitution in the Twentieth Century – Towards a Global Perspective

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Gaudenzi, B 
Swenson, A 

Introducing the Journal of Contemporary History Special Issue ‘The Restitution of Looted Art in the 20th Century’, this article proposes a framework for writing the history of looting and restitution in transnational and global perspective. By comparing and contextualizing instances of looting and restitution in different geographical and temporal contexts, it aims to overcome existing historiographical fragmentations and move past the overwhelming focus on the specificities of Nazi looting through an extended timeframe that inserts the Second World War into a longer perspective from the nineteenth century up to present day restitution practices. Particular emphasis is put on the interlinked histories of denazification and decolonization. Problematizing existing analytical, chronological and geographical frameworks, the article suggests how a combination of comparative, entangled and global history approaches can open up promising new avenues of research. It draws out similarities, differences and connections between processes of looting and restitution in order to discuss the extent to which looting and restitution were shaped by – and shaped – changing global networks.

decolonization, denazification, heritage, looted art, Nazism, networks, restitution
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Journal of Contemporary History
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SAGE Publications
This Special Issue originated from the international conference ‘Looted Art and Restitution in the Twentieth Century: Europe in transnational and global perspective’ morganized at Cambridge on 18–20 September 2014 thanks to the generous support of Newnham College, Cambridge, the Trevelyan Fund (Faculty of History, Cambridge) and the Journal of Contemporary History.