Volavka, Zdenka

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Volavka, Zdenka

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  • Volavkova, Zdenka

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Zdenka Volavka, art professor and research associate at the Royal Ontario Museum, was born in Czechoslovakia and received her PhD from Charles University, Prague. She immigrated to Canada in 1968, and was Professor in the Department of Visual Arts, York University. Her research focused on analyzing the social context of visual art, material culture, history, and ethnography of west-central Africa. Her approach to studying African art combined extensive fieldwork with ethnographic, historical, scientific and linguistic analysis. Zdenka also studied the role of copper in the lives of the peoples of the lower Zaïre basin.

Her life's work was inspired by a trip in 1976 to the Musee de l'Homme in Paris, where she recognized the regalia of Ngoyo kinship labelled (for more than forty years) as a fishing basket. This was particularly important as no permanent regalia from any kingdoms in the whole of Central African have been recovered and only one set had ever even been seen by a foreign researcher. This research was published posthumously in "The Crown and the Ritual: The Royal Insignia of Ngoyo".

At York University, a research fellowship is honoured in her name to assist students engaged in field-based art historical research, which may include comparative study through collections as well as field activities, focusing on the art of the indigenous peoples of Africa and/or North America.

She is survived by her husband, Larry Landa, and son, Robert Landa.


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2014/07/22 Migrated to AtoM
2017/10/06 KCP. Added VIAF
2018/04/11 KCP. expanded biographical sketch and added sources
2018/05/18 Kcp. added research associate note (confirmed with ROM)




Volavka, Zenkda. Crown and ritual: the royal insignia of Ngogo, Edited by Wendy A. Thomas. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, c. 1998. http://gradstudies.yorku.ca/current-students/student-finances/funding-awards/donor-awards/volavka-fellowship/

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