Cultural Heritage and Identities in Africa: Examples from the Kushite Kingdom of Sudan to the House of W.E.B. Du Bois in Ghana

2022 Paul Mellon Lecture

Join philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah for a reflection on the cultural heritage of Africa, from the Nubian pyramids of Sudan to the Koutammakou Cultural Landscape in Benin and Togo, and the redesign of the W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Complex in Ghana. The lecture will address the complex and varied interactions between cultural heritage and questions of identity, memory and community in various African countries. It will also consider how new spaces are being created today, like the Du Bois Museum Complex, highlighting the relationship between place, memorialization, and time. 

Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah will discuss WMF’s efforts to preserve the tomb of Taharka at Nuri in Sudan; the Koutammakou Cultural Landscape on the border of Benin and Togo; the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia; and the Historic Sites of Kilwa in Tanzania. Professor Appiah is a WMF Trustee and a member of the Visiting Committee for the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Date: Monday, May 23
Time: 6:30 pm (EDT)
Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

The Paul Mellon Lecture is made possible by the Paul Mellon Education Fund.


About the Speakers

Kwame Anthony Appiah

Philosopher, cultural theorist, and novelist

Kwame Anthony Appiah is a philosopher, cultural theorist, and novelist currently teaching at the College of Arts and Science and the Law School of New York University. He has previously taught at Princeton, Harvard, Duke, Cornell, Yale, Cambridge Universities, and the University of Ghana. Appiah has written widely on the philosophy of mind and language, ethics and political philosophy, and the philosophy of art, of culture, and of the social sciences. He has also published works in the field of literary studies, where his focus has been on African and African-American literature and literary theory and he writes the weekly Ethicist column for the New York Times Sunday magazine. His publications include In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (Oxford University Press, 1993); Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (Norton, 2006); Lines of Descent: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Emergence of Identity (Harvard, 2014); and The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity (Norton, 2018). He is the President of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


About the Paul Mellon Lecture

Inaugurated in 2003, the Paul Mellon Lecture is supported by the Paul Mellon Education Fund and enables audiences to learn about critical issues in the field of cultural heritage.

Past Mellon Lecture speakers include Kent Weeks discussing the challenges of tourism management in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt; Charles Dempsey on the history of the Carracci Gallery in the Farnese Palace in Rome; Anna Somers Cocks on the impact of ever-increasing tourist numbers in Venice; and Iwan Baan offering the audience a glimpse into the intricacies of his photographic process, capturing culture with intimate detail and profound emotion.