Wed, 20 Jan 2021, 19:00 (GMT)
Hosted by Housmans Bookshop
Housmans welcomes Dan Hicks to discuss his book The Brutish Museums: The Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence and Cultural Restitution at this free online event. Simply register below to attend.
Brutish Museums is a call for western museums to wash their hands of colonial blood.
Walk into any European museum today and you will see the curated spoils of Empire. They sit behind plate glass: dignified, tastefully lit. Accompanying pieces of card offer a name, date and place of origin. They do not mention that the objects are all stolen.
Few artefacts embody this history of rapacious and extractive colonialism better than the Benin Bronzes – a collection of thousands of brass plaques and carved ivory tusks depicting the history of the Royal Court of the Obas of Benin City, Nigeria. Pillaged during a British naval attack in 1897, the loot was passed on to Queen Victoria, the British Museum and countless private collections.
The story of the Benin Bronzes sits at the heart of a heated debate about cultural restitution, repatriation and the decolonisation of museums. In The Brutish Museums, Dan Hicks makes a powerful case for the urgent return of such objects, as part of a wider project of addressing the outstanding debt of colonialism.
To buy a copy of Dan’s book, click here
About the Speaker
Dan Hicks is Professor of Contemporary Archaeology at the University of Oxford and Curator at the Pitt Rivers Museum. His award-winning research focuses on the restitution of African cultural heritage from Euro-American collections, focusing on the place of ideas of cultural whiteness in ongoing histories of colonial violence.
The book that changed the conversation on the contemporary museum