Nefertiti’s Twentieth-Century Career: A Global History

01 Nov 2022


Announced by the University of Pittsburgh:

Discovered in 1912 and first exhibited in 1924, the bust of Nefertiti was soon recognized as an aesthetic ideal globally. Different actors in various contexts, however, invoked her beauty for different and competing purposes. Both in Egypt and in the African American community, activists drew on the hegemonic European narrative – Nefertiti as universal beauty, and as precursor of Western modernity. At the same time, they fundamentally contested this Eurocentric view, mobilizing her memory in the service of national identity and black empowerment. Sebastian Conrad will use the example of Nefertiti’s twentieth-century career to explore how the notion of beauty, and its political stakes, have changed, from the era of imperialism to the present global age.

Sebastian Conrad holds the Chair of Modern History at the Free University of Berlin. With a training in European and Japanese history, his work has focused mainly on issues of colonialism and postcolonialism, global history, and historiography/memory. Among his recent publications are What is Global History (2016); An Emerging Modern World, 1750-1870 (A History of the World, vol. 4), Cambridge, Mass. (2018, edited, together with Jürgen Osterhammel); and “Greek in Their Own Way: Writing India and Japan into the World History of Architecture at the Turn of the Twentieth Century,” American Historical Review 125, no. 1 (2020), 19-53.

This lecture is part of the Gerda Henkel Lecture Series, organized by the Pacific Office of the Germany Historical Institute Washington in cooperation with the Gerda Henkel Foundation. The program brings German historians to the West Coast where they present their research at up to four different universities with the goal to facilitate the general dialogue between German historians and their colleagues in the U.S. and Canadian west.

The Gerda Henkel Foundation was established in June 1976 by Lisa Maskell in memory of her mother Gerda Henkel as a private, non-profit grant making organization. The Foundation has its headquarters in Düsseldorf. The sole object of the Foundation is to promote science at universities and research institutes, primarily by supporting specific projects in the field of the humanities that have a specialist scope and are limited in time. A special concern of the Foundation is the advancement of postgraduates.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we strongly recommend everyone in attendance to wear a mask at all times. Please arrive on-time to ensure you will have a seat. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

If you require an accommodation for effective communication (ASL interpreting/CART captioning, alternative media formats, etc.) or information about campus mobility access features in order to fully participate in this event, please contact Ray Savord at or (510) 642-4555 with as much advance notice as possible and at least 7-10 days in advance of the event.

Event Date: 
Tuesday, November 1, 2022 - 8:00pm to 9:30pm
Sponsored By: 
The University of California Berkeley’s Institute of European Studies, Department of History, and the German Historical Institute Washington