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Fifteen Colonial Thefts

Fifteen Colonial Thefts

A Guide to Looted African Heritage in Museums (Pre-Order, Aug 20 2024)

Sela Adjei & Yann LeGall
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Debates around restitution and decolonizing museums continue to rage across the world. Artifacts, effigies, and ancestral remains are finally being accurately contextualized and repatriated to their homelands.

Fifteen Colonial Thefts amplifies and adds to these discussions, exploring the history of colonial violence in Africa through the prism of fifteen African belongings - all looted at the height of the imperial era and brought to European museums.

The book is structured around three arenas--the battlefield, the royal palace, and the realm of the sacred--in which colonial officers violently plundered Africa. It explores the meaning of those cultural assets at the time of their appropriation and today in an era of restitution.

Each chapter is accompanied by an original illustration, commissioned especially for the book, from both established and emerging African artists, bringing these stories to life for the reader. With contributors from across the continents of Europe and Africa, including scientists, museum professionals, artists, and activists, the book illuminates the collective trauma and loss of cultural, historical, and spiritual knowledge that colonial theft engendered.


Sela Adjei is a multidisciplinary artist with degrees in Communication Design, and African Art and Culture from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana. He received his PhD in African Studies from the University of Ghana, Legon. He is a lecturer at the University of Media, Arts and Communication (NAFTI).

Yann LeGall is a postdoctoral researcher on the project 'The Restitution of Knowledge: Artefacts as Archives in the (Post)Colonial Museum' at the Institute for Art History of the Technical University in Berlin. He was previously a fellow at the Research Training Group Minor Cosmopolitanisms at the University of Potsdam. As a member of the initiatives Berlin Postkolonial and Postcolonial Potsdam, he leads guided tours for university seminars and conferences in both cities and developed a digital audio guide on traces of colonial history in Potsdam.


  • ISBN: 0745349528 EAN: 9780745349527
  • Publisher: Pluto Press (UK)
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Copyright Date: 2024
  • Pub Date: August 20, 2024
  • Pages: 336 pages, 1.0 lbs
  • Categories: Art | Museum Studies, Political Science | Colonialism & Post-Colonialism, Business & Economics | Museum Administration and Museology


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