The companion publication to the 2019-2020 traveling exhibition Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa
(Princeton University Press, 2019, published in association with the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University) tells the story of how trade routes across the Saharan Desert facilitated the movement of people, ideas, and objects between the 8th and the 16th century. Not your typical exhibition catalogue, Caravans of Gold
is a selection of chapters that reach across academic fields and genres of writing, seeking to evoke the exhibition’s central themes, including cultural movement, archaeological fragments, and global connection. We talk to the exhibition’s curator and the publications’s editor, Kathleen Bickford Berzock
, about this expansive project. The conversation ranges from the exhibition’s conception, how the catalogue was designed in relation to it, and best practices associated with building a project like this one. Moreover, Kathleen details the major themes and questions associated with the exhibition. What is the “medieval”? How can we understand historical movements across the Sahara? How does religion –specifically, Islam– play a role in this project?
Kathleen Bickford Berzock is Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. She is the author of For Hearth and Altar: African Ceramics from the Keith Achepohl Collection and the coeditor of Representing Africa in American Art Museums: A Century of Collecting and Display.
Aga Khan Museum, Toronto
September 21, 2019–February 23, 2020
Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC
April 8–November 29, 2020
Nadirah Mansour is a graduate student at Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies working on the global intellectual history of the Arabic-language press. She tweets @NAMansour26 and produces another Middle-East and North Africa-related podcast: Reintroducing.