Final Word lecture focuses on stolen art



One professor hopes to explain the seriousness of kidnapping culture.

Cultural anthropology professor Monica Udvardy will present the second Final Word lecture of the semester, “The Case of the Stolen Statues: Looting Cultural Heritage from Kenya’s Hinterland to America’s Heartland,” on Monday at 7 p.m. in the W.T. Young Library Auditorium.

Udvardy said she hopes her lecture will “heighten public awareness about the scale and scope of the global trafficking in non-Western art and artifacts.”

Final Word event coordinator Jill Baranowski said Udvardy’s extensive travel experience gives her a unique perspective. She said the lecture will focus on the research Udvardy has done regarding illegal trafficking of art and artifacts from the non-Western world.

Udvardy conducts activist research tracing the case of two stolen wooden statues from a homestead in the Kenyan coastal hinterland to their discovery in two U.S. museums 15 years later.

Udvardy said the lecture will help students learn how activist research is carried out step by step.

Baranowski said Udvardy can shed light on a major problem in history that is not given much serious attention.

“Trafficking of illegal artifacts to the United States has become problematic in the past decades, but is often overlooked,” Baranowski said.

Udvardy said she is thankful for the opportunity to speak to students outside the classroom about activist research because she feels passionately about it.

“(There is) a sense of moral outrage at the lack of respect for the cultural property of living cultures today in the non-Western world,” she said.

Attending the lecture will also help students gain a better understanding of illegal art and artifact trafficking, Baranowski said, and being aware of the problem is the first step toward solving it.

“Even though you don’t hear about trafficking happening, it does still occur,” Baranowski said. “Opening the eyes of others to these horrors in the world and educating students and the community of what they can do to help is very important, especially if we want to make a change.”

The lecture is free and open to the public.