Prof. Dr. Kokunre Agbontaen-Eghafona
Principal Investigator, Benin City
Prof. Dr. Kokunre Agbontaen-Eghafona oversaw in particular the relation to the research team in Benin City and stakeholders in Nigeria such as the University of Benin, Benin City. She consulted and shared her research on oral literature and the ethnography of the Benin people of Nigeria; peoples and cultures of Nigeria and Africa; cultural resource management; indigenous knowledge systems; and indigenous curatorial, conservation and exhibition practices of the Benin people during the pre-colonial era, drawing out similarities to such practices in today’s museums. Her extensive academic publications on Benin culture and tradition were pivotal for the project.
Kokunre Agbontaen-Eghafona is a graduate of the University of Benin, Benin City; University of Ibadan, Ibadan; University of Nigeria, Nsukka, all in Nigeria, and New York University. She holds a B.A (Hons.) and M.A History; M.Sc. Archaeology and Anthropology; Professional Certificate in Museum Studies, and Ph.D. Archaeology, specializing in cultural resource management and museum studies. She was a Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology, University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) (1984-1989). She worked as a museum intern at the Department of Arts in Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1990-1991). She has been a lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Benin since 1992, and an Associate Professor / Professor of Anthropology since 2003. Her research interests include oral literature and ethnography of the Benin people of Nigeria; peoples and cultures of Nigeria and Africa; cultural resource management; indigenous knowledge systems. Her doctoral thesis titled “Curating Benin Cultural Materials: Towards Integrating Indigenous and Orthodox Methods,” (2001) investigated and highlighted the indigenous curatorial, conservation, and exhibition practices of the Benin people during the pre-colonial era; drawing out similarities that existed with such practices in today's museums. She has over sixty academic publications mainly on Benin culture and tradition.
Selected publications1990. “Benin City Arts and Crafts Heritage,” Nigerian Magazine, 58 (1 & 2): 3 – 17.
2001. “Alternative Methods of Exhibiting Benin Cultural Objects in Museums,” West African Journal of Archaeology, 31 (2): 28-38. Co-authored with A. I. Okpoko.
2002. “The Use of Benin Cultural Objects for Educational Programmes in Museums,” Nigerian Heritage–Journal of National Commission for Museums and Monuments X (I):120-124.
2003. “The Toponymical Investigation of Benin City, Nigeria,” Nomina Africana 17 (2): 67-75.
2004. “Curatorship of Benin Cultural Materials towards Integrating Indigenous and Orthodox Methods,” African Studies Monograph 25 (4): 195-213. Co-authored with A. I. Okpoko.
2005. “Exhibition Planning and Design for Benin Cultural Objects in Museums: An Alternative Approach,” West African Journal of Archaeology (WAJA) 35 (1&2): 105-113.
2006. “Alternative Conservation Methods: The Benin Example,” in Fundamentals of Museum Practices by Alex Ikechukwu Okpoko. Nsukka: Afro-Orbis Publishing Co Ltd, pp. 214-220.
2008. “Benin Art Objects in Catalogues And Books Interpreting Conventional Photograph in Indigenous Perspective,” West African Journal of Archaeology (WAJA) 28 (1&2): 65-77.
2010. “If the Treasures Are Returned: Views on Museums and the Cultural Heritage in Benin City,” in Whose Objects? Art Treasures from the Kingdom of Benin in the Collection of the Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm, edited by Wilhelm Östberg. Stockholm: Ethnografiska Museet, pp. 22-27.
2014. “Monuments, Museum and Tourism in Social Services Provision and Management in Nigeria,” Perspectives on Social Services in Nigeria, edited by G.E.D. Omuta. Ibadan: HEBN Publishers, pp. 953-973.
2017. “Photographic Recordkeeping in Benin: Ancient and Modern,” in Fragile Legacies: The Photographs of Solomon Osagie Alonge, edited by A. J. Staples, F. E. S. Kaplan and B. M. Freyer. Washington, DC: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, pp. 97-111.
2018. “From Oba Oranmiyan to Oba Ewuare II,” in The Benin Monarchy: An Anthology of Benin History, edited by the Benin Traditional Council. Wells-Crimson Limited Publishers, pp. 65-96.
2018. “The Guilds of Benin: Artefacts, Antiquities and Art,” in The Benin Monarchy: An Anthology of Benin History, edited by the Benin Traditional Council. Wells-Crimson Limited Publishers, pp. 221-233.