Henry Drewal

Africans in India: Merchants, Soldiers, Admirals, Rulers… and Slaves


Africans have been traveling and living in India for many centuries. Their lives took very many forms – from the most elite to the most oppressed. Dr. Drewal will give a broad historical overview of elite Africans in the Deccan, and then focus on the Africans (Siddis) of Karantaka and their arts, especially their patchwork quilts (kawandi).

An apprenticeship with a Yoruba sculptor in Nigeria transformed Henry John Drewal’s life and led him to interdisciplinary studies at Columbia University in African art history and culture where he earned two Masters’ degrees and a PhD. Since 1991 he has been the Evjue-Bascom Professor of Art History and Afro-American Studies at UW-Madison. He has published several books, edited volumes, exhibition catalogues, and many articles on African/African Diaspora arts, among them: Introspectives: Contemporary Art by Americans and Brazilians of African Descent; Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought; Beads, Body, and Soul: Art and Light in the Yoruba Universe; and Soulful Stitching: Patchwork Quilts by Africans (Siddis) in India.