A presentation with discussion with author Dan Hicks
The story of the Benin Bronzes — carried off by the British in 1897 — sits at the heart of a heated debate about cultural restitution, repatriation and the decolonization 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.
Walk into the Met Museum on NYC’s “Museum Mile” and the curated plunder of American imperialism adorns the halls and galleries. Dan’s book calls for western museums to wash their hands of colonial bloodshed. More importantly it is a call to action for all of us — museum workers, artists, casual observers and anti-imperialist activists — to empty these palaces of plunder and simply send the looted items back.
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.
“A startling act of conscience. An important book which could overturn what people have felt about British history, empire, civilisation, Africa, and African art. It is with books like this that cultures are saved, by beginning truthfully to face the suppressed and brutal past. It has fired a powerful shot into the debate about cultural restitution. You will never see many European museums in the same way again. Books like this give one hope that a new future is possible.” — Ben Okri
“Dan, your words brought tears to my eyes. I salute you” — MC Hammer
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