Monday, December 13, 2021

EJIL (European Journal of International Law) Podcast: "Loot"

Recently, I participated in a conversation with Dan Hicks (Oxford University) and Evelien Campfens (Leiden University) on the place of law in the discourse and practices of restitution of objects looted by Europeans in the age of empire. This, I think, is one of the most substantive discussions I have been privileged to take part in. We engaged questions like: How does international law respond to calls for restitution? Does the law even matter; if so which kind? Who resists return, and why? What might restitution mean today? The podcast was moderated by Megan Donaldson (UCL, London) and Surabhi Ranganathan (Cambridge) for the European Journal of International Law Podcast series.
The Podcast is 51 minutes long. If you have the time (you ought to!), click here to LISTEN:

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Axios Podcast on the Afterlives of the Black Lives Matter Movement

It’s been 566 days since George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer. His death spurred millions of people across the globe to protest in support of Black lives. We examine the impact in three locations: United Kingdom, Mexico and Nigeria.

Guests: Aba Amoah, co-founder of Justice for Black Lives; Alice Krozer, professor at the Center for Sociological Research at the College of Mexico; and Chika Okeke-Agulu, director of the African studies program at Princeton University and professor of art and archeology

Credits: "Axios Today" is brought to you by Axios and Pushkin Industries. This episode was produced by Nuria Marquez Martinez and edited by Alexandra Botti. Alex Sugiura is our sound engineer. Julia Redpath is our executive producer. Special thanks to editor-in-chief Sara Kehaulani Goo.


Saturday, December 4, 2021

CBC News feature on Museums and looted objects

This statue of the goddess Annapurna was stolen in 1913 from a Hindu temple in India by Regina lawyer Norman MacKenzie. 

Last night, Dec. 2, I discussed, with Kelda Yuen of the Canadian news network, CBC News, the matter of stolen artifacts in museum collections. This was in response to news that McKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan Province, Canada, is reviewing over 2,000 pieces following the return of an Indian statue originally stolen from its owners by a Canadian collector Norman MacKenzie, who later gifted his hoard to the museum that bears his name today.

Here's a clip of the news segment

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

This "Elu" Mask!

I trained as a wood sculptor with some of the best teachers you could wish for in the academy. And, I think I was quite good with my chisels, gouges, and adzes. If you doubt, go ask El Anatsui, my teacher and former studio master. Yep.

And yet, I am always humbled by the supreme mastery of Ogoni sculptors who fashioned exquisite "Elu" face masks of sassily modern, early-to-mid-20th-century characters such as this guy. Check out his defiantly chamfered high-top fade haircut, with its knife-thin vertical slit! 

What about the flawless lines. There is not a single one that is not supremely rendered: the sweep of the hairline, the brows, the elegantly upturned nose. 

Awesome meeting of inspired craft and imagination.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Virgil Abloh (1981-2021)

He looked Whiteness in the eye

And with a steady hand

Turned it Off.

(For Virgil Abloh)

Friday, November 26, 2021

The Metropolitan's Gambit

Warrior Chief, 16th Century, Benin Kingdom. Now-returned by the Met

This past Monday, according to news reports, The Metropolitan Museum of Art officially handed over two Royal Benin plaques to representatives of the Federal Government of Nigeria, following an announcement last summer that it was planning to return these two artifacts. Fantastic news! Bravo to the Met for keeping to its word. I wasn’t there, but I am sure the Nigerians were thrilled to get back artifacts that should not have left their care in the first place. But there is a problem with how that event seemed to have concluded.

Here’s the thing. The two objects returned this week have a different history from the 160 or so “Benin Bronzes” in the Met’s collection. According to the Museum, of these two, one was part of a collection it received in the early 1990s; the other was offered to the Museum recently. Both, it was discovered, had been in the collection of the Lagos Museum, after they were acquired from Britain by Nigeria decades ago. The Met, in other words, did not want to keep artifacts illegally removed from another museum (in museum-speak, they were never deaccessioned by the Lagos museum, and so had no business turning up in the international market). To be sure, most self-respecting museums would do the same as the Met. However, the news and festivity around the return of these two objects seem to have come at the WRONG time, if you ask me. Why? Well, because, it is being conflated with the restitution of Royal Benin Bronzes looted in 1897 and now scattered mostly in Europe and the US, including the 160 held by the Met.

Junior Court Official, 16th Century, Benin Kingdom. Now-returned by the Met.

Let’s be clear. The return of the two objects illegally removed from the Lagos Museum must not be confused with and is not equivalent to the announcement by the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art that it intends to return the Benin Bronzes in its collection; or with the pledge by the German Government to return more than 1100 Benin Bronzes; or with the return two weeks ago by the French Government of 26 Dahomey Treasures to Benin Republic; or with the returns recently by Jesus College and University of Edinburgh of Royal Benin artifacts they once held. The Met has not said that it has any intention of returning any of the 160 objects in its collection. It appears to be sticking with the position that it acquired the looted objects legally. Reports from the Monday ceremony indicate that that position has not changed, and that is why no one should think otherwise.

Here is the part of the news reports that I am talking about. According to @hyperallergic and @observer, the Met and representatives of the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments “entered into a shared agreement to collaborate on mutual loans of Benin objects and other “exchanges of expertise and art.” LOANS. Yes, the Met returned two artifacts that disappeared from the Lagos Museum, and while handing them over agreed with the Nigerians on a mutual loan of Benin artifacts! I thought that after nearly half a decade of debate and discourse on restitution, we have moved beyond the silly, dishonest, and arrogant notion of loaning looted objects to their original claimants. If there is going to be any loaning of Royal Benin Art, it will have to be done by their Nigerian owners, not some Western institutions that have so far refused to acknowledge the fact that they are keeping looted objected.

So, here is a big Thank You! to the Met for returning the two objects. To the Nigerian museum officials: keep your damn house in order! But the second part of the ceremony last Monday, the one about “mutual loan agreement” is most regrettable and must be rejected by advocates of restitution of looted Royal Benin artifacts. Others are moving to return and restitute; the Met is talking about loans. Are you kidding me? 

Here is what Barnaby Phillips said back in June when the Met announced its plan to return to the Benin Bronzes. "But in returning these specific plaques, [the Met is] making an unacknowledged distinction between them and the rest of their Benin Bronzes. They are giving these two back because they were stolen from Nigerian Museums after independence, not because they were looted in 1897, This return is about PR and legality, not morality

I could not agree more.

Saturday, November 13, 2021


November 18, 2021 - 8:00pm – 9:30pm

The debate about resti­tu­tion and the ethics of West­ern muse­ums’ own­ing African art­works col­lected dur­ing the era of col­o­niza­tion has never been more in the pub­lic eye. Most well-known, per­haps, are the Benin bronzes,” artis­tic and royal heir­looms made since the 13th cen­tury by highly spe­cial­ized met­al­work­ers in the King­dom of Benin (now south­ern Nige­ria). In 1897, British forces sacked the cap­i­tal of this pros­per­ous king­dom. They tore sculp­tures and plaques from the palace walls, and took them back to Europe, where the looted trea­sures were sold to muse­ums and pri­vate col­lec­tors. The royal court of Benin, Niger­ian offi­cials, and high-pro­file schol­ars such as Pro­fes­sor Chika Okeke-Agulu (Prince­ton) have been demand­ing their return for decades. Increas­ingly, muse­ums based in the Global North have been lis­ten­ing to these calls for repa­tri­a­tion, and some have pledged to return works from their col­lec­tions. To pro­vide a new home for the repa­tri­ated works, plans for a new Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA), are cur­rently in devel­op­ment with world renowned archi­tect Sir David Adjaye lead­ing the build­ing design project.

On the occa­sion of Wish You Were Here: African Art & Resti­tu­tion, a pub­lic inves­ti­ga­tion into our own col­lec­tion at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan Museum of Art (UMMA), Sir David Adjaye and Pro­fes­sor Chika Okeke-Agulu will dis­cuss their cur­rent and recent projects that address how works of art may re-enter the soci­eties they were torn away from. Laura De Becker, Interim Chief Cura­tor and the Hel­mut and Can­dis Stern Cura­tor of African Art at UMMA, will intro­duce the event.

Sir David Adjaye OBE is an award win­ning Ghana­ian-British archi­tect known to infuse his artis­tic sen­si­bil­i­ties and ethos for com­mu­nity-dri­ven projects. His inge­nious use of mate­ri­als, bespoke designs and vision­ary sen­si­bil­i­ties have set him apart as one of the lead­ing archi­tects of his gen­er­a­tion. In 2000, David founded his own prac­tice, Adjaye Asso­ciates, which today oper­ates glob­ally, with stu­dios in Accra, Lon­don, and New York tak­ing on projects that span the globe. The firm’s work ranges from pri­vate houses, bespoke fur­ni­ture col­lec­tions, prod­uct design, exhi­bi­tions, and tem­po­rary pavil­ions to major arts cen­ters, civic build­ings, and mas­ter plans. His most well known com­mis­sion to date, The National Museum of African Amer­i­can His­tory & Cul­ture in Wash­ing­ton, DC opened on the National Mall in Wash­ing­ton DC in 2016 and was named Cul­tural Event of the Year by The New York Times.

In 2017, Adjaye was knighted by Queen Eliz­a­beth II and was rec­og­nized as one of the 100 most influ­en­tial peo­ple of the year by TIME Mag­a­zine. Most recently, Adjaye was announced the win­ner of the 2021 RIBA Royal Gold Medal. Approved per­son­ally by Her Majesty the Queen, the Royal Gold Medal is con­sid­ered one of the high­est hon­ors in British archi­tec­ture for sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the field inter­na­tion­ally. Sir Adjaye is also the recip­i­ent of the World Eco­nomic Forum’s 27th Annual Crys­tal Award, which rec­og­nizes his lead­er­ship in serv­ing com­mu­ni­ties, cities and the environment.

Chika Okeke-Agulu, an artist, critic and art his­to­rian, is direc­tor of the Pro­gram in African Stud­ies and pro­fes­sor of African and African Dias­pora art in the Depart­ment of African Amer­i­can Stud­ies, and Depart­ment of Art & Archae­ol­ogy, Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity. His books include Yusuf Grillo: Paint­ing. Lagos. Life (Skira, 2020); Obiora Udechukwu: Line, Image, Text (Skira, 2016); Post­colo­nial Mod­ernism: Art and Decol­o­niza­tion in Twen­ti­eth-Cen­tury Nige­ria (2015); and (with Okwui Enwe­zor), Con­tem­po­rary African Art Since 1980 (2010). He recently co-orga­nized, with Okwui Enwe­zor, El Anat­sui: Tri­umphant Scale (Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2019). He is co-edi­tor of Nka: Jour­nal of Con­tem­po­rary African Art, has writ­ten for The New York Times and Huff­in­g­ton Post, and main­tains the blog Ọfọdunka.

His many awards include The Melville J. Her­skovits Prize for the most impor­tant schol­arly work in African Stud­ies pub­lished in Eng­lish dur­ing the pre­ced­ing year (African Stud­ies Asso­ci­a­tion, 2016); and Frank Jew­ett Mather Award for Dis­tinc­tion in Art Crit­i­cism (Col­lege Art Asso­ci­a­tion, 2016).Okeke-Agulu serves on the advi­sory boards of the Hyundai Tate Research Cen­tre, Tate Mod­ern, Lon­don, The Africa Insti­tute, Shar­jah, and Bët-bi/Le Korsa Museum Project, Sene­gal. He is also on the advi­sory coun­cil of Mpala Research Cen­ter, Nanyuki, Kenya; serves on the exec­u­tive board of Prince­ton in Africa, and on the edi­to­r­ial boards of African Stud­ies Review and Jour­nal of Visual Cul­ture.

Laura De Becker is the Interim Chief Cura­tor and the Hel­mut and Can­dis Stern Cura­tor of African Art at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan Museum of Art (UMMA). A spe­cial­ist in Cen­tral African art, she joined UMMA after a fel­low­ship at Wits Art Museum in Johan­nes­burg, South Africa. After many years of work­ing with a team to research to envi­sion a new instal­la­tion of UMMA’s African art col­lec­tion, De Becker’s We Write to You About Africa, a project that dou­bled the foot­print of the African gal­leries at UMMA, opened in Sep­tem­ber 2021. De Becker’s work on the rein­stal­la­tion led to Wish You Were Here: African Art & Resti­tu­tion, a sep­a­rate project grap­pling with issues of resti­tu­tion, also on view at UMMA for the 2021 – 22 aca­d­e­mic year.

Lead sup­port for the UMMA exhi­bi­tion Wish You Were Here: African Art & Resti­tu­tion is pro­vided by the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan Office of the Provost and the Michi­gan Coun­cil for Arts and Cul­tural Affairs. 

Wish You Were Here: African Art & Resti­tu­tion is on view at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan Museum of Art (525 S. State St.) through July 32022.

How to Watch

This Penny Stamps Speaker Series event will pre­mière on Novem­ber 182021 at 8pm and can be viewed on this page, at dptv​.org, or on the Penny Stamps Series Face­book page.

Pre­sented in part­ner­ship with UMMA, with sup­port from Taub­man Col­lege of Archi­tec­ture and Urban Plan­ning. Our Fall 2021 Series is brought to you with the sup­port of our part­ners, Detroit Pub­lic Tele­vi­sion and PBS Books.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Interviews with Mark Galloway of CBC News Radio (Canada) and with TRT World TV (Turkey) on the return of Dahomey Treasures

Portraits of Kings Glele, Ghezo and Behanzin
photo courtesy,

The French Government returned 26 of the Dahomey Treasures looted from the Abomey palace by the black French General Alfred Dodds in 1892. These treasures include the three sculpted figures of King Ghezo, King Glele and King Behanzin, as well as the superbly carved throne of King Ghezo, and had been displayed at the Musee Quai-Branly, Paris, the museum holding most of France's African imperial loots.

King Ghezo's Throne

Yesterday, I have two interviews on the return of these treasures, first on radio with Matt Galloway of CBC News, and second, on TRT World.

Here is the link to the CBC interview:

And here is the link to the TRT interview:

Sunday, October 10, 2021

My Anita Glass Memorial Lecture at Brown University, Oct. 15, 2021 @ 5:50PM EST

Anita Glass Memorial Lecture: Chika Okeke-Agulu

Friday, October 15, 2021 at 5:30 pm

El Anatsui, Rising Sea, 2019.  Photo courtesy Haus der Kunst


The Department of the History of Art and Architecture at Brown University is honored to announce that poet, curator, blogger and art historian Chika Okeke-Agulu will present the 2021 Anita Glass Lecture on October 15 at 5:30 pm in List Art Building on the Brown campus. He will discuss the work of Ghanian-born artist El Anatsui, one of Africa’s most celebrated contemporary sculptors.

In March 2019 Professor Okeke-Agulu co-curated El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale at the Haus der Kunst Museum in Munich - perhaps the largest solo show of a black African artist in Europe.  Okeke-Agulu’s talk, "El Anatsui's Metamorphic Objects," will discuss the show, while also examining the ontological and epistemic orders that inform our understanding of El Anatsui's shape-shifting, monumental metal sculptures.

Okeke-Agulu is Professor of African and African Diaspora Art at Princeton University. His recent books include Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in 20th-Century Nigeria (2015), Obiora Udechukwu: Line. Image. Text (2018), and Yusuf Grillo: Painting. Lagos. Life (2020). 


About Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu 

Chika Okeke-Agulu was born in Umuahia in Nigeria in 1966. As an artist, he has had three solo exhibitions, five joint exhibitions, and twenty-eight group exhibitions in England, Germany, Nigeria, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Trindad and Tobago, and the United States. His work is in the collections of the Newark Museum, Iwalewa-Haus, University of Bayreuth, and the National Council for Arts and Culture, Lagos.

As a scholar, Professor Okeke-Agulu’s books include YusufGrillo: Painting. Lagos. Life (Skira Editore, 2020), ObioraUdechukwu: Line, Image, Text (Skira Editore, 2016); PostcolonialModernism:    Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-CenturyNigeria (Duke, 2015); and (with Okwui Enwezor), Contemporary African Art Since 1980 (Damiani, 2010). He is co-editor of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art and maintains the blog Ọfọdunka and has written for HuffPost.  He has co-organized several art exhibitions, including El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale (Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2019), Who Knows Tomorrow (Nationalgalerie, Berlin, 2010), 5th Gwangju Biennale (Gwangju, 2004), The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945 1994 (Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, 2001), Seven Stories About Modern Art in Africa (Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1995), and the Nigerian section at the First Johannesburg Biennale, 1995.

Among Professor Okeke-Agulu’s many awards and prizes are: Honorable Mention, The Arnold Rubin Outstanding Publication (triennial) Award (Arts Council of African Studies Association, 2017); The Melville J. Herskovits Prize for the most important scholarly work in African Studies published in English during the preceding year (African Studies Association, 2016); and the Frank Jewett Mather Award for Distinction in Art Criticism (College Art Association, 2016). Okeke-Agulu serves on the advisory boards of the Hyundai Tate Research Centre, the Tate Modern, London, and The Africa Institute, Sharjah, and on the Advisory Council of Mpala Research Centre, Nanyuki, Kenya. He is on the executive board of Princeton in Africa, and the editorial board of the Journal of Visual Culture.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Princeton in Africa accepting applications

 Princeton in Africa helps future leaders develop lifelong connections to the people and nations of Africa. We offer highly selective yearlong fellowships to recent college graduates with organizations across the African continent; we enable our Fellows, through their work, to make significant contributions to Africa’s well-being; and we encourage our Fellows to cultivate meaningful relationships with communities in Africa and with one another.

Service for a Year

Princeton in Africa matches talented and passionate college graduates with organizations working across Africa for yearlong service placements. Our program is open to graduating seniors and young alumni from any college or university accredited in the U.S. Our Fellows have helped improve education and public health, source fresh water and alternative energy, increase family incomes, and so much more.

For more information about the fellowship application click here

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Distinguished Okwui Enwezor Lecture at University of Bayreuth, July 15, 2021

 07.07.2021 16:47

New lecture series in honour of Okwui Enwezor celebrates premiere

Christian Wißler Pressestelle
Universität Bayreuth

    In recognition of his outstanding achievements in the field of African and Global Arts, the Africa Multiple Cluster ofExcellence and the Iwalewahaus at the University of Bayreuh decided to honour the late Nigerian art curator, historian and writer Okwui Enwezor by establishing an annual lecture carrying his name. The inaugural lecture of the series will be held on 15.07.2021 by Prof. Dr. Chika Okeke-Agulu, within the framework of the International Cluster Conference “Africa*n Relations: Modalities Reflected”. The event is open to the public and will take place online due to the pandemic.

    Okwui Enwezor Distinguished Lecture 2021
    Termin: 15 July 2021, 6-7.30 pm (CEST)
    Welcome: Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Seesemann, Dean, Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence
    Introduction: Dr. Ulf Vierke, Director Iwalewahaus
    Lecture: Prof. Dr. Chika Okeke-Agulu, Princeton University: “The Postcolonial Museum”

    For almost three decades, Okwui Enwezor was one of the most influential figures in the field of contemporary art and culture with globally recognized achievements as a curator, critic, publisher, writer, poet, historian, activist, and public speaker. Awarded with numerous prizes, Enwezor gained public recognition as the artistic director of a number of global exhibitions. His curatorial practice and academic work challenged, transformed, and significantly shaped the global contemporary art landscape and continues do so after his passing in 2019.

    In order to celebrate his achievements and work for free thought and action, the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence has teamed up with Iwalewahaus at the University of Bayreuth to establish a new lecture series. The Okwui Enwezor Distinguished Lecture will be held annually to honour the late Nigerian art curator. The lecture titled The Postcolonial Museum will be delivered by Chika Okeke-Agulu, Director of Graduate Studies and professor of art history at the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University (Princeton, NJ, USA).

    New lecture format

    The annual Okwui Enwezor Distinguished Lecture entails a new event concept. Dr. Ulf Vierke, director of Iwalewahaus, explains: “It is crucial that the format of lecture is not conceived in a traditional sense, but rather as an invitation to think together”. Each year, an artist or scholar, either an individual or a collective, will be invited to present fresh thoughts on matters of art, curation and politics in a lecture hosted by the Africa Multiple Cluster at one of its five locations (Bayreuth; Lagos, Nigeria; Eldoret, Kenya; Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Makhanda, South Africa). This year, the lecture will be part of the International Cluster Conference and held in a virtual format.

    Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019): a life in the service of African and Global Arts

    Born in Calabar in Nigeria in 1963, Okwui Enwezor earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science at New Jersey City University (USA). He gained visibility in the wider public as artistic director of the second edition of the Johannesburg Biennale in 1997 and went on to shape the field of African and Global Arts working in Seville, Spain and as adjunct curator at the International Center for Photography, New York. Further positions included Dean of Academic Affairs at the San Francisco Art Institute and visiting professorships in art history at University of Pittsburgh, Columbia University in New York, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Umea, Sweden. He was one of only two personalities to curate both the Venice Biennale (2005) and the Documenta in Kassel (2002). In 2011, he was appointed director of the Haus der Kunst in Munich, where he passed away on 15 March 2019.

    In February 2019, a few weeks before his premature demise, the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies had decided to confer an honorary doctorate to Okwui Enwezor. The envisioned date of the conferral, 24 May 2019, turned out to be the day of his funeral in his Nigerian hometown in Anambra State in south-eastern Nigeria. “Since the honorary doctorate did not come to pass, it is only befitting for the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence to honour this trailblazer for African Arts by dedicating a lecture series to his memory,” Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Seesemann, Dean of the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence, points out.

    Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

    Sabine Greiner
    Academic Journalist
    Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence
    ​University of Bayreuth
    Phone: (+49) 921 / 55-4795

    Tuesday, June 1, 2021

    WNYC's "The Takeaway" radio program on Restitution of African Art, June, 1, 2019

    Today, June 1 at 9:40AM EST, WNYC's popular program, The Takeaway, guest-hosted by Melissa Harris-Perry for Tanzina Vega, featured a discussion on the restitution of African Art by European and American museums and collections. Here below is the information published on the program page and a link to the podcast. The other program guest, along with me, is Karen Attiah who is the Global Opinions Editor and award-winning journalist at Washington Post.

    Undated photo put out by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, shows an illegally smuggled, artifact repatriated from the United Kingdom
    ( Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities Associated Press )

     The murder of George Floyd — and last summer’s protests against systemic racism — reignited conversations about the racist and colonialist legacies of so many institutions across the globe, including museums. 

    Now, some museums are making good on their promises to fight systemic racism in very tangible ways. This April, in a historic move, Germany announced it would return stolen African artifacts currently in its museums back to Nigeria including the priceless Benin Bronzes of the then-Kingdom of Benin. And in March, the University of Aberdeen in Scotland agreed to repatriate its Benin Bronze. France also indicated similar plans last year. 

    Yet some museums — including the famed British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art — have not committed to doing the same, despite having sizable collections of looted objects like the Benin Bronzes. 

    Karen Attiahglobal opinions editor at the Washington Post, and Chika Okeke-Agulu, professor at Princeton University in the Department of Art & Archaeology, joined The Takeaway to discuss the calls to repatriate stolen items to their origin countries.

    Click here to listen to the radio program

    Thursday, May 27, 2021


    African Artists from 1882 to Now (Pre-order)

    Phaidon Editors with introduction by Chika Okeke-Agulu and glossary by Joseph L Underwood

    Price: USD$69.95


    A groundbreaking A-Z appraisal of the work of over 300 modern and contemporary artists born or based in Africa

    In recent years Africa’s booming art scene has gained substantial global attention, with a growing number of international exhibitions and a stronger-than-ever presence on the art market worldwide. Here, for the first time, is the most substantial survey to date of modern and contemporary African-born or Africa-based artists. Working with a panel of experts, this volume builds on the success of Phaidon’s bestselling Great Women Artists in re-writing a more inclusive and diverse version of art history.


    Format: Hardback

    Size: 290 x 250 mm (11 3/8 x 9 7/8 in)

    Pages: 352 pp

    Illustrations: 315 illustrations

    ISBN: 9781838662431

    About the author

    Conceived and edited by Phaidon editors.

    Chika Okeke-Agulu is Professor of African and African Diaspora Art at Princeton University. He is the author of several books including Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-Century Nigeria (2015), and is a co-editor of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art.

    Thursday, May 20, 2021

    Flashback: My Conversation with El Anatsui at Princeton, April 22, 2015

    How time flies! It is already more than six years ago that my friend and teacher El Anatsui was in Princeton as the Sarah Lee Elson, Class of 1984, International Artist-in-Residence. The highlight was, of course, the acquisition of his work, Another Place (2014) by the Princeton University Art Museum.

    El Anatsui, Another Place, 2014

     And then there was our public conversation on campus, April 22, 2015, which I cherish, as I have several others we have done over the years.

    PRI's "The World" feature on the Return of Benin Bronzes by Germany


    Last week, "The World", the radio program on PRI, published a podcast in response to the news from Germany to the effect that the German government plans to return the Benin Bronzes in its state museums. The story was anchored around an interview with me by the reporter Sarah Birnbaum. Listen to the 5-minute feature here:

    Cambridge Union Debate: "Should Museums Return their Colonial Artefacts"?

     On May 17, the Cambridge Union, reputedly the world's oldest debating club, at Cambridge University hosted one of its debate panels, this time on the question: "Should Museums Return their Colonial Artefacts"? The four invited debate participants were: Dr. Monica Hanna who is acting Dean of the College of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, Arab Academy for Science and Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT) in Aswan, Egypt; Dan Hicks, archaeologist and anthropologist and Professor of Contemporary Archaeology at the University of Oxford, Curator at the Pitt Rivers Museum, and a Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford. He is also the author of the hard-hitting book, The Brutish Museums (2020); Felwine Sarr, a humanist, philosopher, economist,  and the Anne-Marie Bryan Chair in French and Francophone Studies at Duke University, and is the author of Afrotopia (2019); and me. Cambridge Union Speakers Officer Tara Bhagat moderated. I really liked this panel--among the many that I have been involved in this past year, on the subject of restitution of African artefacts in European and American museums and institutions.

    If you are interested in learning news stuff about the issues pertinent to the vexed question of colonial-era looting of African artefacts and cultural heritage, the fate of the captive objects, and the broader meaning and scope of restitution, the full panel can be found here on Youtube.

    Wednesday, May 19, 2021

    Princeton University Community Solidarity with Palestine

    Princeton University Community Statement of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
    May 18, 2021

    We, members of the Princeton University community, condemn the ongoing attacks on the Palestinian people in Gaza by the Israeli armed forces, which represent the latest chapter of a nearly-fifteen-year blockade that has transformed the territory into a prison for its two million inhabitants, most of whom descend from refugees expelled and driven from their homes during the Nakba (1947-1949) that accompanied the creation of the state of Israel.

    We condemn the displacement of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem—part of a decades long campaign of warfare, expulsion, unequal residency rights, and discriminatory planning policies that advances the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem.

    We mourn all loss of life. We also refuse the “two-sides” and “evenhandedness” narrative that ignores and conceals the meaningful differences between Israel—one of the most heavily militarized states in the world that receives $3.8 billion of military aid annually from the U.S.—and a Palestinian population resisting occupation and oppression.

    We stand by Human Rights Watch ( and the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem ( in calling Israel’s systemic discrimination and violence by its proper name: Apartheid. The brutal system that controls Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is ideologically founded upon Jewish supremacism, rules over the lives of Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel alike, and is practically committed to territorial theft from Palestinians who continue to resist physical removal and existential erasure.

    We salute the bravery and will-to-survival of Palestinians—in the Occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and within Israel—as they resist the violence of the Israeli military, settler militias, and lynch mobs. We recognize as they do that peace with justice in Palestine/Israel is not possible under conditions of military occupation and unending settler-colonial expansionism.

    We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their indigenous liberation struggle against forced dispossession by the Israeli settler colonial state. For decades the ostensible peace process has perpetuated Israel’s land grabs and the violent displacement of Palestinians under the fictions of military necessity and a perpetually postponed “final status” negotiation.

    We stand squarely in support of inalienable Palestinian rights that are enshrined in international law. Palestinians have the right to live in freedom. Palestinians have the right to remain in their residences. Palestinians dispossessed by the State of Israel have the right to return home.

    We wholeheartedly endorse the Palestine and Praxis open letter and call to action (, affirming our own commitments to speaking out in defense of the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people as well as foundational principles of scholarly integrity and academic freedom.

    We stand in solidarity with Palestinians and their Jewish Israeli allies, understanding that their struggle is fundamentally entwined with many other movements for equality, justice and liberation both within the United States and around the world. We join together in rededicating ourselves to working against all forms of racism, colonialism, and injustice at Princeton, in the classroom, on campus, and beyond.

    See the full list of signatories here:


    Max Weiss, History and Near Eastern Studies

    Joshua B. Guild, African American Studies and History

    Julia Elyachar, Anthropology and Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies

    Zia Mian, Program on Science and Global Security

    Harshini Abbaraju '22, South Asian Progressive Alliance

    Abdelhamid Arbab '23, Muslim Students' Association

    Benjamin Conisbee Baer, Comparative Literature

    Ruha Benjamin, African-American Studies

    Eduardo Cadava, English

    Vera Candiani, History

    Zahid Chaudhary, English

    Andrew Cole, English

    Mohamed El-Dirany 18’ 19*

    Hal Foster, Art & Archaelogy

    Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Near Eastern Studies

    Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., African American Studies

    Lara Harb, Near Eastern Studies

    Satyel Larson, Near Eastern Studies

    Mariam Mashaal *21, School of Public and International Affairs

    Anne McClintock, Gender and Sexuality Studies

    Naomi Murakawa, African American Studies

    Rob Nixon, English and Princeton Environmental Institute

    John Oakes '83

    Chika Okeke-Agulu, African American Studies and Art & Archaelogy

    Dan-El Padilla Peralta, Classics

    Gyan Prakash, History

    Rachel Price, Spanish and Portugese

    Benjamin Roberts '22, Princeton Committee on Palestine

    Sarah Sakha '18

    Irene Small, Art & Archaeology

    Alex Smith '13

    Tracy K. Smith, Lewis Center for the Arts

    Hrishi Somayji GS, Princeton Mutual Aid

    Keeanga-Yahmatta Taylor, African-American Studies