'British Museums and The Spoils of Imperial War: Where Next?' with Dan Hicks

Issued: Wed, 23 Oct 2019 08:00:00 BST

Thursday 7 November 2019
5.30pm - 7.00pm
Hunterian Museum
Free entry, booking required

No question is more significant for British museums today than how to understand and address the place of colonial violence in the formation of their collections, and its ongoing legacies today. This talk introduces the preliminary results of Dan's current Art Fund Headley Fellowship, which starts to address the (in)visibility of colonial violence in the permanent displays of the Pitt Rivers Museum. In the context of the fast-moving global dialogue about cultural restitution, this talk calls for a move beyond the familiar euphemisms of "contested histories", "difficult collections" or "entangled objects". The provenance and ethics of some objects currently in the care of Europe's museums are not matters for debate, but ongoing forms of slow violence around which today curators have an obligation to understand provenance, to take action, and to make visible the entire knowledge ecology of their institutions.


Dan Hicks FSA, MCIfA is Professor of Contemporary Archaeology in the School of Archaeology, Curator of World Archaeology at the Pitt Rivers Museum, and a Fellow of St Cross College.  Dan works on the material and visual culture of the modern, (post)colonial and contemporary world, and on the history of Archaeology and Anthropology. Current work is focused on the politics of European museum collections, and the material culture of the "refugee crisis".  Dan is also a Non-Executive Director and Trustee of Museum of London Archaeology. He has published five books, with two further books being published during 2019, and regularly appears on Radio and TV.


Image: "Interior of King's Compound Burnt during Fire, Bronzes on Ground”, Benin City, Nigeria during the Punitive Mission of 1897 (Pitt Rivers Museum 1998.208.15.11)


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