La Maison Française, NYU Africa House, and Deutsches Haus at NYU presents a conversation between Bénédicte Savoy, one of the world’s foremost experts on restitution and cultural heritage, and visual culture theorist and activist, Nicholas Mirzoeff, on Savoy’s new book “Africa’s Struggle for Its Art: History of a Postcolonial Defeat”.
The conversation will focus on how many of the arguments and talking points that have dominated public discourse around restitution in recent years were developed and honed by European collecting institutions since the 1960s, what roles “historical mechanisms of forgetting, renunciation, and silence” have played in the process, and why restitution is fundamental to any future relationship between African countries and the West.
About “Africa’s Struggle for Its Art: History of a Postcolonial Defeat”
For decades, African nations have fought for the return of countless works of art stolen during the colonial era and placed in Western museums. In Africa’s Struggle for Its Art, Bénédicte Savoy brings to light this largely unknown but deeply important history. One of the world’s foremost experts on restitution and cultural heritage, Savoy investigates extensive, previously unpublished sources to reveal that the roots of the struggle extend much further back than prominent recent debates indicate, and that these efforts were covered up by myriad opponents.
Making the case for why restitution is essential to any future relationship between African countries and the West, Africa’s Struggle for Its Art will shape conversations around these crucial issues for years to come.
About the panelists:
Nicholas Mirzoeff is a visual activist, working at the intersection of politics, race and global/visual culture. In 2020-21 he is ACLS/Mellon Scholar and Society fellow in residence at the Magnum Foundation, New York. Among his many publications, The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (2011) won the Anne Friedberg Award for Innovative Scholarship from the Society of Cinema and Media Studies in 2013. It has been translated into ten languages and was a New Scientist Top Ten Book of the Year for 2015. He curated “Decolonizing Appearance,” an exhibit at the Center for Art Migration Politics (September 2018-March 2019) and is currently collaborating on a global public art project with artist Carl Pope, poet Karen Pope and gallerist Lisa Martin, entitled “The Bad Air Smelled of Roses.”
Bénédicte Savoy has held a full professorship in the Department of Art History at the Technische Universität Berlin since 2009, where she currently has the Chair for Modern Art History/Art History as Cultural History. From 2016 to 2021 she also held the “chaire internationale” at the Collège de France in Paris (Histoire culturelle des patrimoines artistiques en Europe, XVIIIe-XXe siècle). Together with the Senegalese author and academic Felwine Sarr, she prepared the groundbreaking report on repatriation from French museums commissioned by French president Emmanuel Macron.
“Africa’s Struggle for Its Art: History of a Postcolonial Defeat” is funded by the DAAD from funds of the German Federal Foreign Office (AA).
Location & Time
Tue, March 29, 2022, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM EST
Please register here.