32nd Annual Meeting of the Southeast World History Association

Join us at the Thirty-Second Annual Meeting of the Southeast World History Association which will take place virtually on 24–25 October, 2020. Arkansas Technical University has graciously placed its institutional version of WebEx at our disposal and co-sponsored our keynote speaker. We have been fortunate to receive a fantastic response to our calls for paper and panel proposals and will present a diverse program focused on this year’s conference theme: Catalysts of Social Change.

SEWHA is excited to have Sarah Van Beurden, Associate Professor of African Studies at Ohio State University, as this year’s keynote speaker. Her talk is titled

African Art Restitution, Museums, and the Politics of Heritage: Lessons from the Belgian–Congolese Case

Museum and heritage politics were and are a battleground on which representations of the colonial past compete to shape the popular imagination and to see that a particular version of cultural decolonization is enacted, both nationally and internationally.

Debates about the decolonization of museums and the restitution of African art have increased significantly in the past couple of years in France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and Belgium, often in the context of broader concerns about the decolonization of public spaces, museums, and heritage sites, against the backdrop of postcolonial politics in general.

What is curiously missing from these debates is consideration for the long history of these demands for restitution.

Van Beurden will use the Belgian–Congolese case to interrogate this history, which dates back to the colonial era: What does this history teach us about today’s debates? How do we understand the shifting positions within these debates over time, and why do they continue to surface? What dynamics have animated their chief protagonists? What has been the role of international organizations such as the UN and its subsidiary UNESCO? The talk will close with a reflection on how the colonial past is viewed today and the role historians might play in how decolonial futures are imagined.

SEWHA has waived the normal conference fee this year, but we do ask that attendees REGISTER (for free) at our website so that we may send via email the necessary event invitation through WebEx and so that our sponsor can have a better idea of the traffic to expect on their servers.