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Unraveling History: Return Of African Cultural Objects Repatriated And Looted In Colonial Times

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Chapter Summary

Collecting objects from foreign countries and cultures flourished during the 19th century, especially after European powers were more firmly in control in Africa and Asia. Colonialism coincided with the development of new academic disciplines such as anthropology and archaeology. During the colonial period, cultural hemorrhaging started. Losses were sustained in many ways. First, as a result of the intrusion and imposition of foreign religions, Africans simply destroyed or left to decay what were once important objects of veneration. The second basis of cultural hemorrhaging was through gifts. The third basis was through sheer plunder. One of the most infamous examples is connected with the Benin pillage of 1897. The fourth way in which losses were sustained has been through research workers who have removed art pieces, claiming that they were meant for study collections, or that they would help to publicize the art of Africa around the world.

Keywords: Africa's cultural heritage; African cultural objects; colonial period; cultural hemorrhaging



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