Tracking Australian Aboriginal collections in Europe
How did Australian Aboriginal material culture find its way to Europe and how was it received, valued and circulated between collectors and institutions? Was it a random accumulation, or does an understanding of the histories of colonisation, anthropological ideas and the traffic in ethnographic artefacts cast light on the motivations and methods of the key actors?
My project involves an analysis of how Australian ethnographic material reached Europe and circulated between collectors and collecting institutions during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The project is based on my own research over the past 30 years, but will draw on a range of other published and unpublished data. The project will calibrate and assess the contributions of key players in this collecting history, according to the rise and fall in international interest in Australian ethnography during the period. The project takes account of the fact that ethnographic material constituted a form of capital, rarely value-free. My project will provide an important case study linking the history of ideas about hunter-gatherer peoples with tangible objects, ethnographic trends, particular personalities and the shifting markets for Australian artefacts.
Philip Jones (1996) ‘Boomerang. Behind an Australian icon’ (Wakefield Press, Adelaide)
Philip Jones (2007) ‘Ochre and Rust. Artefacts and encounters on Australian frontiers (Wakefield Press, Adelaide).
Philip Jones (2014) ‘Behind the Doors. An art history from Yuendumu’ (Wakefield Press, Adelaide).