Peter Probst

Peter Probst

(617) 627-2939
11 Talbot Avenue
Research/Areas of Interest: Art and Anthropology, African Art and Visual Culture, Museum and Heritage Studies, Institutional Theories, Historiography


  • Habilitation, University of Bayreuth, Germany, 2001
  • Dr. phil., Free University of Berlin, Germany, 1990
  • M.Phil., Cambridge University, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1984
  • M.A., Free University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany, 1983


Peter Probst works at the intersection of art history, anthropology, and museum studies. He approaches the study of art from two complementary perspectives: One is an institutional understanding of art that looks at the presentation, interpretation, and valuation of art within the "art world." The other is a relational discussion of art that conceives art as a social practice.

His research ranges from the global dynamics of modernism to the politics of heritage and disputes over cultural ownership. Most of his publications result from fieldwork in Nigeria, Germany, and the U.S.

His current interests are mostly driven by changes in the field. Three book projects are underway. Under contract with The University of Chicago Press, the first project addresses the shifting meanings and debates around the notion of African art. It asks how the study of African art has changed since its inception in the late 19th century. The answer is a story about the making, remaking, and unmaking of African art as a field of study. The second project results from a fellowship and conference at the Getty Institute in Los Angeles on art and anthropology. Co-edited with Joseph Imorde from the University of Siegen / Germany and under contract with Getty Publications, the volume interrogates the complex relationship of art history and anthropology during the entangled periods of modernism and colonialism. The third project results from a conference in Accra, Ghana. Under contract with Routledge and co-edited with Ray Silverman and George Abungu, the volume explores the role of African national museums in the context of the current debates on restitution and decolonization.