Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa [book review]

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Elizabeth A. Perrill, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: The project of recentering histories is at the core of both the exhibition and catalog Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa. When art historians speak of recentering, the contemporary art world, biennials, and online media spring to mind quite readily, but shifting perceptions can seem Sisyphean in earlier time periods. Bringing the discursive practice of recentering to fruition in an exhibition of the medieval world requires extensive institutional collaboration and wherewithal. The labor required expands exponentially when one is dealing with an entire continent, namely Africa, that is still portrayed and positioned as peripheral. Well, there are now no more excuses for keeping Africa on the edges. Kathleen Bickford Berzock and her team, including partners from six nations, have brought together fragments of archaeological pasts, valued trade goods from trans-Saharan networks, sacred Islamic texts, and some of West Africa’s most iconic sculptures. Thirty-two lenders contributed over 250 works to this exhibit and its accompanying catalog, and from this point forward, any new medieval or ancient African art history course has no excuse for ignoring, marginalizing, or diminishing the material and cultural sophistication of the trans-Saharan trade.

Additional Information

College Art Association (CAA) Reviews
Language: English
Date: 2019
book reviews, medieval art, Saharan Africa, exhibition catalog

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