Restitution is impossible’ was the provocative title of a recent keynote lecture by Professor Anna Reading at an international conference on Memory and Restitution at the University of Westminster in July 2013. The lecture addressed the different ways in which memories of atrocity, genocide and traumatic personal events are mediated though tribunals, trials, state apologies, the repatriation of artifacts and cultural mediations.
Professor Reading argued that the nature of traumatic memory means that for the communities and individuals concerned economic compensation is not enough, Rather, she argued we need to understand the daily affective labour required in communities and for individuals since the effects of genocides and colonialism is on-going. Digitisation offers additional possibilities through the digital records provided of for example truth and reconciliation, coroners inquests and legal documents. Restitution then in a climate of connective globalization involves different assemblages of recompense rather than just one act or one event.