August 21, 2005
Many of the greatest ethnographic collections in museums in Europe were created as a consequence of the empire building by various countries at that time. In many ways, the British Museum & the Louvre could be seen as archetypal examples of this trend.
Collectors traveled through countries such as Egypt & India taking whatever artefacts they could fins back with them. A new book by Maya Jasanoff looks at how the way in which these collectors operated could often be seen as a metaphor for the formation of the empire itself.
Maya Jasanoff has discovered an entirely new dimension to our understanding of Britain’s imperial expansion in her study of European collectors, Edge of Empire, says Richard Gott
Saturday August 20, 2005
Edge of Empire: Conquest and Collecting on the Eastern Frontiers of the British Empire, 1750-1850
by Maya Jasanoff
416pp, Fourth Estate, £25
Each generation concerned with the history of the British empire seeks to reassess it according to the demands of changing attitudes and circumstances. Today’s emphasis on otherness and fusion, on border-crossing and multiculturalism, has favoured a revisionist and more benign recollection of the past, particularly noticeable in studies of 18th-century India. The stark vision in the historical kaleidoscope of imperial red banners confronted in battle by the green flags of Islam has given way to a more nuanced shade of grey.
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