Under Oshun's Gaze

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 7-25-2022

Publication Title

Museums & Social Issues


Curation, Exhibit design, Africana religion, Materiality, Repatriation, Museum




Questions about museums’ responsibilities to return looted African religious artifacts in their collections continue to create a number of challenges for US museums. This article assesses these challenges from the perspective of the Brooklyn Museum and the Fowler Museum at UCLA. While pioneering two different strategies, they both reimagine the restitution process as one where source communities and museum professionals work collaboratively together to cultivate relationships around the religious cosmologies of Africana religions and provide important case studies into the processes by which museums might move toward “propatriation”, a process that involves commissioning new artistic creations and repairing relationships. Ultimately, the Brooklyn Museum and the Fowler Museum demonstrate how the religious contexts of African ritual objects can serve as important catalysts for the transformation of museums into ritualized healing spaces where the remaking of relationships is made possible as is the recognition of museums’ participation in colonial violence and theft.



Peer Reviewed

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