Bénédicte Savoy spoke at the Seminar in Epistemologies of Material Culture on Wednesday, April 13, 2022 at 6 pm. Her talk is entitled “Africa’s Struggle for Its Art: History of a Postcolonial Defeat, 1965–1985.”

Focusing on the two decades immediately after eighteen former colonies across the African continent gained independence from France, Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom, this lecture follows the ultimately unsuccessful efforts by cultural and political leaders and politicians across Africa, in the diasporas, and in Europe itself, to demand the return of art and address the power dynamics and ideologies of racism and Western chauvinism—still prevalent in contemporary repatriation discussions—that prevented these myriad objects’ return to their countries of origin. Research in the archives clearly shows that almost every conversation we have today about the return of cultural property to Africa took place forty years ago. The return of cultural property is an integral part of larger social and political relations between European and African countries.

Dr. Bénédicte Savoy was born in Paris in 1972. Since 2009, she has been professor of modern art history at the Institute of Art Studies and Historical Urban Studies at the Technische Universität Berlin. In 2016, she was awarded the Leibniz Prize by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Savoy is a member of the Berlin-​Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the German Academy for Language and Literature. In 2016, she was appointed professor at the Collège de France in Paris.

Her book, Africa’s Struggle for Its Art: History of a Postcolonial Defeat, is available here. Use the code SAVOY22 for a 30% discount through June 30, 2022.