Repatriation in Africa, the African Diaspora and other Global Contexts: Histories, Practices, Understandings and Constructions
A virtual International Interdisciplinary Conference
November 11-12, 2021
Department of History, Faculty of Arts
University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana
[Background and follow-up references for the conference presentations:]
Consider the history of the artifacts from the Benin Empire in modern day Nigeria:
and then the history of European presence along the “Gold Coast” and the “Whydah Coast” further to the west.
What is misleading and just plain wrong in the statement made in the excerpt above by the narrator of the 2020 BBC film — Zeinab Badawi? What does it assume? What does it leave out? How might we wish correct this historical misstatement? Listen to her statement again….
The history of imperial warfare in this region deserves extended attention:
Consider as well both the Cameroun case as well as the Benin case
Conference presentation, 12 November 2021: T. C. Weiskel [full conference proceedings expected from the University of Cape Coast.]
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Although he never lived in Africa, as far as we know, a poem by Berthold Brecht raises some profound and enduring questions about African history because in reading it we are reminded of what is left out and ignored in most historical writings. He points out in a few simple phrases — as poets can do most powerfully — that there are so many questions that remain unanswered because they have never been asked in the first place.
It is the task of the professional historian in every culture to ask some of the questions that have never been asked. For many in Africa, these questions need to be asked with what the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used to refer to as “the fierce urgency of now.”
A Worker Reads History
Who built the seven gates of Thebes?
The books are filled with names of kings.
Was it the kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone?
And Babylon, so many times destroyed.
Who built the city up each time? In which of Lima’s houses,
That city glittering with gold, lived those who built it?
In the evening when the Chinese wall was finished
Where did the masons go? Imperial Rome
Is full of arcs of triumph. Who reared them up? Over whom
Did the Caesars triumph? Byzantium lives in song.
Were all her dwellings palaces? And even in Atlantis of the legend
The night the seas rushed in,
The drowning men still bellowed for their slaves.
Young Alexander conquered India.
Caesar beat the Gauls.
Was there not even a cook in his army?
Phillip of Spain wept as his fleet
was sunk and destroyed. Were there no other tears?
Frederick the Great triumphed in the Seven Years War.
Who triumphed with him?
Each page a victory
At whose expense the victory ball?
Every ten years a great man,
Who paid the piper?
So many particulars.
So many questions.
Related historical resources:
- Historical Cartography and the Archaeology of the Atlantic Trade
- Maps, Stones & Plants: Agents of Empire and the Ecology of the Atlantic Trade
- Mapping the Slave Trade: 1556-1823 – A Digital Humanities Project
- Written in Stone: The Silent and Eerie Eloquence of Stone Structures in the Atlantic Trade
- Book Collecting at the End of Empire & the Beginning of the Revolution
- From Gallery to Reality (… and Back): The Display of Art and the Art of Display in the Digital Age
[Further resources will be compiled and listed here by Tim Weiskel for the conference participants:]
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Tim Weiskel is trained an historian and social anthropologist. He received a B.A.(1969) form Yale University and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship for further study at Balliol College, Oxford. His graduate work, professional research and university teaching has concentrated upon the French-speaking areas of West Africa, with special attention to the Akan-speaking, Baule peoples.
His documentary research was focused upon colonial archives in Paris, Dakar, Bamako and Abidjan, and his field research centered upon the villages of the Yamoussoukro and Bonzi region in the central Ivory Coast. Upon completing a degree in social anthropology and the D.Phil in Modern History, Dr. Weiskel returned to the United States to teach at Williams College, then at Yale and Harvard universities. Retired from over forty years of classroom lecturing Dr. Weiskel currently develops digital archival resources and teaches courses online on the multiple legacies of European colonialism in a rapidly changing global ecosystem.