Peter Probst

Peter Probst

Professor of Anthropology (Secondary Appointment)
Fine Arts House, Room 208
11 Talbot Avenue, Medford, MA


Peter Probst works at the intersection of art history and anthropology. Running through much of this work is an understanding of art as social practice. With a focus on African art and visual culture his research has engaged a broad range of issues. The subjects of his books span from the aesthetics of belonging in Malawi to the dynamics of modernism in Nigeria and the debate on African modernities. His current interests are mostly driven changes in the field. Three book projects are under way. 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. Two volumes, one co-edited with Gary Urton from Harvard, the other co-edited with Joseph Imorde from the University of Siegen/Germany, interrogate the complex relationship between art history, art, and anthropology. The third project is a collaboration with Ray Silverman from the University of Michigan. Following a conference in Accra/Ghana, we have invited African and Euro-American curators and scholars to jointly explore the question what is the role and status of a National Museum in Africa today. This project too will result in an edited volume.


  • PhD, Free University Berlin, 1990
  • MPhil, Cambridge University, 1984
  • MA, Free University Berlin, 1983


Art and Anthropology, African art and visual culture, Museum and Heritage Studies, Historiography