Craniums, Cultural Artefacts and Colonialism

Nick Shepherd, Fadlabi and Ingrid Moe

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The Legacy of Colonialism Nick Shepherd, Fadlabi and Ingrid Moe

The British Museum in London contains more than 900 bronze figures from the historical kingdom Benin, which the British brought from today’s Nigeria during their colonial reign. A magazine at the University of Oslo holds remains of around 500 individuals from 50 countries, including craniums from Sudanese, Algerian, Egyptian and Sami individuals.

These examples are far from unique, but over the past few years, a number of museums have returned – repatriated – artefacts and remains to their homelands and ancestors.

This afternoon, we will examine the ethical aspects around African cultural artefacts and remains in museums across the world, and the discussion of whether to return them. We will also look at how our perception of art is shaped by the categorization of African art as “primitive”.

Nick Shepherd is associate professor in archeology from South Africa, currently at Aarhus University. His research has focused on cultural heritage and memory in South Africa, as well as decolonization in archeology. He will give an introduction to historical and current debates about repatriation of artefacts and remains from museums, examining the role of museums and of archeology in our society.

Fadlabi is a Norwegian-Sudanese artist, curator and writer. His work has been shown at venues such as Performa 15 in New York, Townhouse in Cairo and Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo. He is the founder of Khartoum Contemporary Art Center in Oslo. Fadlabi will talk about the concrete work he is doing to decolonize art history.

Following their talks, there will be a short conversation with Shepherd and Fadlabi on stage, led by Ingrid Moe, artistic director of MUNCH live.

In a series of events, we will examine the concrete traces of colonialism that still shape the societies we live in. The event will be in English.

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