CFP: Museums, material culture and the British Empire (London/UK, 29-30 October 2009)

"Museums, material culture and the British Empire" symposium
The British Museum and National Maritime Museum
29 - 30 October 2009

The symposium as described below on "Museums, material culture and the British Empire" will take place on 29 and 30 October 2009 at the British Museum and the National Maritime Museum. There are still a few spaces in the programme for speakers and we would be delighted to hear from any scholars whose work fits into the following themes and would be interested in presenting a paper.

Further information will be available on registering to attend the symposium in July.

The establishment of museums throughout the British Empire is increasingly recognised as part of the context of imperialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, both practically and symbolically. This symposium will build on the ground-breaking work of John MacKenzie in his latest book, Museums and Empire (forthcoming with Manchester University Press). A range of papers will explore the relationship between museums, as repositories for objects and cultural institutions for conveying knowledge, and the politics of culture and the formation of identities in the British Empire.

As the work of Professor MacKenzie has shown, museums responded to their locations, perceived audiences and the agency of individual collectors in order to mediate an engagement with non-European spaces, peoples and cultures. This symposium will bring together scholars working on issues such as the history of colonial museums, the historical display and interpretation of empire, and the establishment of 'museum networks' in the British imperial context.

Possible themes for papers include:

- Museums and their meanings in the colonial context
- Collecting and curating in the British Empire
- Role of objects and display in the formation of colonial identities
- Museum networks in the British Empire
- Architecture of museums in the British Empire

Unfortunately, due to limited funding, we will not be able to provide assistance towards speakers' travel or accommodation, although refreshments will be provided. Those wishing to present a paper should contact Sarah Longair ( or John McAleer ( by 1 July 2009.

Sarah Longair

H-Net Network for Museums and Museum Studies


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