Radical Reading Monthly Book Group
Join us for our new radical book group! We’re getting together every month to discuss a book from our new Radical Reading Room – a library we’ve set up at Left Bank in collaboration with Pluto Books. It’s an informal group and everyone is welcome, so pop down and chat about some timely political topics.
We’ll chat about the book and the themes it looks at, so you definitely don’t need to be an expert, and you are more than welcome to come along, listen and learn too.
The Brutish Museum by Dan Hicks
The theme for discussion: Colonial narratives within British Museums and Gallery collections. Repatriation of objects to counties of origin.
Book Synopsis - Walk into any Western museum today and you will see the curated spoils of Empire. They sit behind plate glass: dignified, tastefully lit. Accompanying pieces of card offer a name, date and place of origin. They do not mention that the objects are all stolen.
Few artefacts embody this history of rapacious and extractive colonialism better than the Benin Bronzes - a collection of thousands of metal plaques and sculptures depicting the history of the Royal Court of the Obas of Benin City, Nigeria. Pillaged during a British naval attack in 1897, the loot was passed on to Queen Victoria, the British Museum and countless private collections.
The Brutish Museums sits at the heart of a heated debate about cultural restitution, repatriation and the decolonisation of museums. Since its first publication, museums across the western world have begun to return their Bronzes to Nigeria, heralding a new era in the way we understand the collections of empire we once took for granted.
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The Radical Reading Room
The Radical Reading Room is a new collaborative project opening in local spaces throughout the UK - it’s a library for creative thinkers and critical minds. The library, in the Left Bank porch, is stocked full of new boundary-pushing books supplied by Pluto Press and supported by the Left Book Club. It’s not just books - we’ll be bringing you a host of events, starting community-led conversations, and bringing in authors who will bring their insight on a variety of topics.