Research on the provenance of eight human skulls from Hawai‘i

Funding area:
Colonial contexts
Funding recipient:
Übersee-Museum Bremen
Federal state:
Contact person:
Dr. Jan Christoph Greim

PositionAbteilungsleiter Handelskunde und Provenienzforschung

Tel.0049 (0) 421 160 38 400

Type of project:
short-term project

In mid-2019, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) approached the Übersee-Museum Bremen and requested a listing of the iwi kupuna (human remains of Hawaiian origin). Following this request, eight human skulls were researched at the house, which were then listed in tabular form with all available information. Analysis of this listing was followed by the visit of a delegation from the OHA on 28 February 2020 to examine the iwi kupuna of their ancestors. The subsequent discussion resulted in the consensus that the human remains should be examined more closely for their provenance by researchers both at the Übersee-Museum and in the country of origin. The aim was to close the existing provenance gaps in order to prepare for repatriation if the corresponding situation arose. In general, only a few new research results could be generated after the research was completed due to the lack of sources in Hawaii and Germany. Overall, however, it was possible to acquire sufficient knowledge about the historical background of the iwi kupuna, among other things, so that repatriation is in preparation. A return of the eight human skulls of Hawaiian origin is expected to take place in 2022.

(c) Übersee-Museum.