Walk into any European museum today and you will see the curated spoils of empire. They sit behind plate glass: dignified, tastefully lit. Accompanying pieces of card offer a name, date and place of origin. They do not mention that the objects are stolen.
Few objects embody this history of rapacious and extractive colonialism better than the Benin Bronzes - a collection of thousands of brass plaques and carved ivory tusks depicting the history of the Royal Court of the Obas of Benin City, Nigeria. Pillaged during a British naval attack in 1897, the loot was passed to Queen Victoria, the British Museum and countless private collections.
The story of the Benin Bronzes sits at the heart of a heated debate about cultural restitution, repatriation and decolonisation of 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.
Format: Hardback, 336 pages
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