Noah Lachs President, The Oxford Union
Dear Mr Mantheakis,
Wednesday 29th June 2016
I am writing to invite you to speak at the Oxford Union. It would be a great privilege to host you as a guest, and I sincerely hope you will be able to accept this invitation. The Oxford Union has a rich history. Founded in 1823 to protect and uphold the principles of free speech and debate in England at a time when they were under threat, it has grown to become the most prestigious student society in the world.
The Union has hosted world leaders in virtually every field, including former US Presidents Reagan, Nixon and Carter, David Cameron, John McCain, Nancy Pelosi, Malcolm X, Mother Teresa, President Hamid Karzai, the Dalai Lama, Anna Wintour, Michael Jackson, Shakira, Morgan Freeman and Buzz Aldrin to name but a few.
It would be an honour if you were to continue this fine tradition. We would be delighted if you would, therefore, speak on the motion: This House would repatriate artifacts obtained during colonial rule.
In the course of human history, there have been countless objects lifted from colonies by imperial powers - for instance, the Elgin Marbles and the Kohinoor Diamond. Today, despite having independent status, former colonies such as India and Egypt do not possess many of their own heritage objects. However, lost in large collections in western galleries, these precious artifacts are viewed by millions every day and perhaps serve a greater educational purpose than if they were dispersed thinly across the globe. Yet, do accusations of theft, in the context of an unrepentant postcolonial world, cloud any benefit of this? Do former colonies own the objects crafted by their predecessors, or does the passage of time allow a change in ownership?
In your work since the founding of the International Parthenon Sculptures Action Committee you have spearheaded the online campaign for the repatriation of the Parthenon Sculptures currently held in the British Museum, enthusing thousands of citizens globally to support your efforts.
In recent years, international efforts in support of repatriation have been gaining traction, and your contribution to these have been instrumental; you therefore provide a unique perspective to a debate that promises to be both engaging and challenging, and will reach a global platform. As is tradition, the debate will be held on a Thursday evening, though there are a number of possible dates: 20th October, 27th October, 3rd November, 10th November, 17th November, and 24th November 2016.
The Union offers a unique combination of tradition and prestige with our student members who always constitute an engaged and enthusiastic audience; our events last year attracted coverage from the BBC, CNN, New Delhi TV, and all major British national newspapers and international publications including the New York Times and the Economist. Furthermore, all our debates can be professionally filmed for our YouTube channel, which was redesigned and relaunched this year. However, the level of media coverage is, of course, entirely at your discretion. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any queries.
Noah Lachs, President
The Oxford Union,
Frewin Court, Oxford, OX1 3JB, Great Britain Tel: +44 (0) 1865 241 353 Web: www.oxford-union.org