Damiana Otoiu

Damiana Otoiu, PhD., is an anthropologist of law and politics whose research is focused on how property rights are (re)defined and disputed in postcolonial contexts, and on the “social and political lives” of museum objects and of collections of physical anthropology. She undertakes research in France, Belgium, South Africa and Democratic Republic of Congo by looking at museums’ policies and norms in general, and at the process of property restitution in particular (the repatriation of human remains from French ethnographic museums to South African indigenous groups, the cultural objects’ restitution from the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren to the Institute of the National Museums of Congo in Kinshasa). She is a lecturer in Political Anthropology in the Department of Political Science of the University of Bucharest, and a research associate of the Center for the Study of Political Life (CEVIPOL), Université Libre de Bruxelles. She is the lead investigator of a research project entitled “Museums and Controversial Collections. Politics and Policies of Heritage-Making in Post-colonial and Post-socialist Contexts” funded by the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research (2015-2017).

Research interests

  • Museum Studies (e.g. Representations of the Past in Museums, History of Collections, Colonial and Post-colonial Collecting Practices, Cultural Objects’ Restitution, History of "Ethnographic" Museums, "Social and Political Lives" of Museum Objects and of Collections of Physical Anthropology);
  • Legal and Political Anthropology (e.g. Anthropology of Property Relations, Anthropology of Moralities and of Judicial Processes, Restitution of Indigenous Peoples' Lands and Resources in Southern Africa);
  • History and Anthropology of Scientific Practices (e.g. History of Collections of Physical Anthropology in/ from France, Belgium, Southern Africa, RD Congo, Scientific Racism, Genomics and Postcolonial Politics);
  • Politics and Urban Policies in Southern Africa, RD Congo and Romania (e.g. Public Space and Public Memory, Heritage-Making Processes after the 2nd WW).