Zhanna Ter-Zakaryan is an MPhil candidate in Socio-Legal Research, under the supervision of Professor Linda Mulcahy. Her project focuses on the role of law and provenance within the current cultural heritage ownership debate. She is paying particular attention to the case of the Benin Bronzes, cultural artefacts looted from the Kingdom of Benin (modern-day Nigeria) by the British military in 1897. Through her project, she seeks to understand how British museums are currently dealing with the growing social pressure to critically reassess their Benin collections. She looks at the international legal and political discourse around ownership and protection that has culminated in the contemporary restitution debate to understand how this discourse plays out in the Benin case and how it affects British museums' policies and their handling of these artefacts.
Prior to joining the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Zhanna graduated with distinction (SAIC Scholar) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she majored in Art History, Theory, and Criticism. Her undergraduate research included the ethics of art collecting as well as intellectual property challenges that museums face in the 21st century.
Zhanna’s research at Oxford has been made possible through the generous support of the Armenian International Women’s Association and the Armenian General Benevolent Union.