Journal Article

Collecting cultures

Felicity Jensz

in Journal of the History of Collections

Volume 24, issue 1, pages 63-76
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 0954-6650
Published online February 2011 | e-ISSN: 1477-8564 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jhc/fhq043
Collecting cultures

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As proto-ethnologists, missionaries represented an important source of ethnographical material, collecting for many museums and displays. It is contended here that European missions affected the collecting habits of their missionaries through actively encouraging or discouraging collecting on behalf of certain institutions. The motivation behind the endorsement of certain collecting habits and not others was linked to the missionary societies’ perceptions of themselves. This paper examines both religious and secular ethnographical collections, in Herrnhut, Paris, and Berlin, to which missionaries of the Moravian Church were asked to contribute from the mid-nineteenth century; it evinces the tensions between the Church's collecting habits and the religious goals established for missions. Moreover, the examination of this one group leads to broader conclusions about the motivation behind the ethnographical collections of missionaries and of museums in the nineteenth century.

Journal Article.  9937 words. 

Subjects: Exhibition Catalogues and Specific Collections ; History of Art ; Social and Cultural History

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