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Museums, Anthropology and Imperial Exchange

By: Amiria Henare

343 pages, 47 halftones

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Dec 2008 | #179118 | ISBN-13: 9780521100748
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NHBS Price: £28.99 $37/€35 approx

About this book

Amiria Henare explores the role of material cultural research in anthropology and related disciplines from the late eighteenth century to the present. Grounded in a historical ethnography of museums in New Zealand and Scotland, the work traces the movement of artefacts now held in contemporary collections through space and time, demonstrating how and why things were bought, exchanged and stolen and carried across oceans to arrive in present-day museums. The collecting of artefacts and their study both in museums and the the field are emphasised as key strategies in the development of anthropological thought, While much late twentieth-century writing in anthropology has employed analytic models and methodologies derived from the study of language, this work belongs to a growing body of research drawing on the epistemological potency of artefacts, the distinctive insights afforded by engagement with material things.

...this fascinating volume pulls together a mass of diverse and often little-known material, telling a complex and revealing story in an unusual and convincing way. It offers multiple lvels of interest within a wide range of historical fields and demonstrates, through its anthropological conceptualization, the incontrovertible interconnectedness of two apparently disparate histories throughout a long period. Elizabeth Edwards, University of the Arts, London, Journal of Interdisciplinary History "Amiria Henare's monograph is a valuable addition to historical and anthropological literature, both for its conclusions and for its theoretical challenges. Above all, Henare is to be applauded for looking beyond anthropology's current emphasis on fieldwork and language-based interpretative methodologies in favour of a bold and very successful experiment to rediscover the discipline's roots in the study of material artifacts, museums, and their collections...this is an impeccably researched and well-argued piece of scholarship that raises important questions about the role of material objects in creating and displaying meaning." Kenneth J. Orosz, University of Maine at Farmington, Canadian Journal of History "As I read this book, I kept thinking of all the people I know who might want to read or teach thsi book: scholars of museums, collecting, science studies, circulation and comparative colonialisms...It is a tribute to Henare's wide-ranging imagination that the list of people that I thought would find this book useful is such a long one." - Ilana Gershon, INdiana University, Pacific Affairs "[Henare] offers a thought-provoking, intelligent, and historically grounded account of the interplay between objects, social thought, and social relations. This book is, in many ways, a scholarly paean to the epistemological potency of artifacts." - Kathleen M. Adams, Loyola University Chicago "Rarely do books about material culture succeed in as many ways as this one, with its thoughtfully conducted research, creative theoretical insights, and clear, heartfelt prose" Miriam Kahn, The International History Review


Contents

1. String games; 2. Objects of exploration; 3. Objects of knowledge; 4. Improvement and imperial exchange; 5. Colonial baggage; 6. 'Storehouses of science'; 7. Trophies and souvenirs; 8. Things and words; 9. Words and things; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.

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Biography

Amiria Henare is Assistant Curator for Anthropology in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.

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