Skip to main content
This program is over. Hope you didn't miss it!

Africa’s Struggle for Its Art: Reclaiming a Stolen Heritage

Afternoon Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, May 31, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1L0462
Select your Tickets
Powered by Zoom

For decades, African nations have fought for the return of countless works of art stolen during the colonial era and placed in Western museums. Shortly after 1960, when 18 former colonies in Africa gained independence, a movement to pursue repatriation was spearheaded by African intellectual and political classes.

Drawing on her new book, Africa’s Struggle for Its Art, art historian Bénédicte Savoy reveals this largely unknown but deeply important history. She looks at pivotal events, including the watershed speech delivered at the UN General Assembly by Zaire’s president, Mobutu Sese Seko, which started the debate regarding restitution of colonial-era assets and resulted in the first UN resolution on the subject. She examines how German museums tried to withhold information about their inventory and how the British Parliament failed to pass a proposed amendment to the British Museum Act, which protected the country’s collections. In the mid-1980s, African nations enacted the first laws focusing on the protection of their cultural heritage.

Savoy is in conversation with Souleymane Bachir Diagne, a professor in the departments of French and of Philosophy and the director of the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University. Ngaire Blankenberg, director of the National Museum of African Art, provides a brief comment on the Smithsonian’s plan to return some of its collection to Africa.

Africa’s Struggle for its Art (Princeton University Press) is available for purchase.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*

Book Sale Information

Patron Information

  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.
  • Unless otherwise noted, registration for streaming programs typically closes two hours prior to the start time on the date of the program.
  • Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from
  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.

*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.

This online program is presented on Zoom.