Colonial and postcolonial museum collecting in Papua New Guinea

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This essay contrasts early and later colonial collecting by anthropologists and museum scientists in Melanesia with the postcolonial collecting in which I participated in the 1980s under the auspices of the Australian Museum (1987). My contention is that museum collections made during early colonialism took place in a relatively hierarchical and androcentric context of moral difference. In subsequent phases of the colonial era, as well as in the ongoing postcolonial period, anthropological collecting sought, and continues to seek, egalitarian and gender inclusive dialogue with vendors; in part by drawing from local metaphors and idioms to express status inclusivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-352
Number of pages20
JournalAustralian Journal of Anthropology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research on which this article is based was funded by the Australian Museum and the Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota. A first draft was written for a session in honour of Douglas Newton that was organised by Nancy C. Lutkehaus and Eric K. Silverman and held at the 2003 annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association, Chicago Ill.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Australian Anthropological Society


  • Papua New Guinea
  • Sepik/Northcoast
  • anthropology
  • colonial and postcolonial collecting
  • museums


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