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The India Museum Revisited

Arthur MacGregor

£45.00

ISBN: 9781800085718

Publication: October 05, 2023

Series: V&A co-publications

The museum of the East India Company formed, for a large part of the nineteenth century, one of the sights of London. In recent years, little has been remembered of it beyond its mere existence, while an assumed negative role has been widely attributed to it on the basis of its position at the heart of one of Britain’s arch-colonialist enterprises.

Extensively illustrated, The India Museum Revisited provides a full examination of the museum’s founding manifesto and evolving ambitions. It surveys the contents of its multi-faceted collections – with respect to materials, their manufacture and original functions on the Indian sub-continent – as well as the collectors who gathered them and the manner in which they were mobilized to various ends within the museum.

From this integrated treatment of documentary and material sources, a more accurate, rounded and nuanced picture emerges of an institution that contributed in major ways, over a period of 80 years, to the representation of India for a European audience, not only in Britain but through the museum’s involvement in the international exposition movement to audiences on the continent and beyond.

Praise for The India Museum Revisited\ 'The book and its companion website will become standard sources for studying European and American practices of visually ‘documenting’ distant lands, the inescapable entwining of collections and displays with nineteenth-century imperial ambition and its rationalizing hierarchies of race and culture, while also affording opportunities to reassess the collection in ways that transcend the colonial constructs that shaped it.'
*Journal of the History of Collections

Arthur MacGregor is Andrew W. Mellon Visiting Professor at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Research Institute.

List of figures

Foreword by Tristram Hunt
Preface
Acknowledgements
The 'India Museum Revisited' project

Part I: Historical introduction

1 An ‘Oriental Museum’ at the India House
2 The objects themselves: restoring an identity to the collections

Part II: The collections of the India Museum

3 Historical relics: their role in the collection
4 Trading with and within India: material culture of commerce and control
5 Industry and technology: inorganic materials
6 Industry and technology: organic materials
7 The mirror of India: clothing, dress and ornament
8 Making war: weapons and defensive armour
9 Religious observation: introducing Indian devotional practice
10 Culture and recreation
11 Imaging India
12 Collections of individuals and the emergence of ethnography
13 The India Museum (partly) recollected

Appendix: glossary of indigenous terms as transcribed in the catalogue of 1880
Bibliography
Index

'The book and its companion website will become standard sources for studying European and American practices of visually ‘documenting’ distant lands, the inescapable entwining of collections and displays with nineteenth-century imperial ambition and its rationalizing hierarchies of race and culture, while also affording opportunities to reassess the collection in ways that transcend the colonial constructs that shaped it.'
Journal of the History of Collections


 

'The book and its companion website will become standard sources for studying European and American practices of visually ‘documenting’ distant lands, the inescapable entwining of collections and displays with nineteenth-century imperial ambition and its rationalizing hierarchies of race and culture, while also affording opportunities to reassess the collection in ways that transcend the colonial constructs that shaped it.'
Journal of the History of Collections


 

Format: Paperback

Size: 234 × 156 × 33 mm

472 Pages

180 colour illustrations

ISBN: 9781800085718

Publication: October 05, 2023

Series: V&A co-publications

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