"This project investigates major ethnographic collections that entered European museums during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and have remained largely unstudied since. Focussing on materials from the Pacific that are now in museums in Russia, Germany, the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom, it will use innovative cross-disciplinary methods to advance understandings of materiality, cross-cultural history, and museum policy and practice in Europe today. Led by the PI, a team of postdoctoral researchers based in Cambridge will investigate Oceanic collections across a range of European museums in unprecedented depth. They will work with a network of collaborators, including elders and community members in the Pacific Islands, and contemporary artists, who will provide a range of expert, customary, and experimental perspectives upon art works and genres, and upon the questions raised by collection histories and museum environments. The project will:
1. Theorise the constitution of collections, as complex, relational assemblages, never simple samples of local material cultures.
2. Use comparative methods to understand both the arts of Oceania and the making of European collections and museums. No study has yet analysed British, Dutch, French, German and Russian collecting histories together, nor asked how and why these inter-connected enterprises resulted in distinctive collections and museums.
3. Propose new, powerfully historicised approaches to presentations of Oceanic art, and world cultures generally, appropriate to the European museums of the twenty-first century."
Field of science
- /humanities/history and archaeology/history
Call for proposal
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