Project team
Dr. Felicity Bodenstein
Principal Investigator, Paris

Dr. Felicity Bodenstein provided general guidance and oversight as well as input and insight on provenance research and publications locating archival records. She played a role in the preparatory work in defining the guiding parameters on the basis of which collections/objects are included in the database. In particular, she oversaw the development of the ‘Provenance’ space on the platform, working closely with Ermeline de la Croix, providing bibliographical references and archival resources for the identification and qualification of the provenance names. She reviewed the provenance roles and co-authored the fifty biographies of important figures. She provided relevant contacts for research and contributed her own research on the market history of the Benin pieces. She set up the initial Zotero bibliography that the team built on.


Dr. Felicity Bodenstein is an art historian working in Paris, specialized in the history of archaeological and ethnographic collections and the social, economic, and cultural processes involved in their creation, classification, interpretation, display, and reception during the 19th and 20th century. After completing a Ph.D. on the history of the collections of the department of coins and medals at the National Library in Paris in the 19th century, she now works on questions of representation in the display of contested, translocated objects. Her on-going research since 2015 is dedicated to understanding the global destiny of the Benin pieces looted in 1897 by British Naval forces in present-day Nigeria and considers the value transformations and narratives that have accompanied their initial looting and the successive displacements through the market and through collections. She is also interested in the long history of the restitution debates that they are currently part of. Her research was supported by post-doctoral fellowships from the Max Planck Institut at the Kunsthistoriches Institut in Florence, by the musée du quai Branly–Jacques Chirac in Paris and by the Technische Univeristät in Berlin; where she worked for two years in the project translocations, piloted by Professor Bénédicte Savoy. Since 2019, she is a lecturer in the history of museums and heritage studies at Sorbonne Université, Paris.︎

Selected publications

2020. Guest editor of “Africa: Trade, Traffic, Collections,” Journal for Art Market Studies 4 (1), 14 October.

2020. “Alles von Wert in Besitz genommen,” Süddetusche Zeitung (19 February): 10.

2020. “Une typologie des prises de butin à Benin City en février 1897,” Monde(s) 17 (1): 57-77.

2019. “Matières nobles. Les collections royales de Benin City au prisme des relations hiérarchiques,” in Valeurs et matérialité. Approches anthropologiques. Paris: Rue d’Ulm, p. 45-60.

2019. “Wohin gehört die Königinmutter Idia?,” Bauwelt 8: 30-31.

2019. “Cinq masques de l’Iyoba Idia du royaume de Bénin: vies sociales et trajectoire d’un objet multiple,” Perspective. La Revue de l’INHA 2: 227-238.

2018. “Le retour des objets pillés pendant la période coloniale, un enjeu de taille au Nigeria,” The Conversation (30 December).

2018. “Rawson and Moor: The Capture of Benin City (1897),” Translocations. Anthologie: Eine Sammlung kommentierter Quellentexte zu Kulturgutverlagerungen seit der Antike (19 October).

2018. “Weltkunst unter Verdacht. Raubkunst, ihre Geschichte und Erinnerungskultur in deutschen Sammlungen,” with Christine Howald, in Deutschland Postkolonial, edited by Joachim Zeller and Marianne Bechhaus-Gerst. Berlin: Metropol-Verlag, pp. 25-43.

2018. “Notes for a Long-Term Approach to the Price History of Brass and Ivory Objects taken from Benin City in 1897,” in Acquiring Cultures: World Art on Western Markets, edited by Christine Howald, Bénédicte Savoy and Charlotte Guichard. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, pp. 276-288.