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African Art and the Slave Trade

Evening Program

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1H0256

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Power Figure (Nkisi N’Kondi: Mangaaka), 19th cen., Congo (The Met)

Between 1400 and 1900, nearly 20 million Africans were captured and sold into slavery. They left the continent in the holds of ships or on the backs of camels, bound for destinations across Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The modern world was built on the backs of these individuals and their arrival in the northern hemisphere contributed greatly to its growth and development. In contrast, the African continent’s own development suffered as a result of this forcible depopulation.  

Art historian Kevin Tervala introduces participants to Atlantic and Indian Ocean slave trades, with a focus on how African artists—and the societies that they were a part of—reacted to the sudden and brutal disruption and transformation of the world’s second-largest continent.

From the protective arts such as the Kongolese religious objects, minkondi, to the defensive architecture of Ganvie, a village built as a safe haven in Benin’s Lake Nokoue, Tervala highlights how the slave trade forever altered Africa’s cultural history, spreading misery as well as bestowing great material wealth throughout.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit


S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)