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Title: The moving objects of the London Missionary Society : an experiment in symmetrical anthropology
Author: Wingfield, Chris
ISNI:       0000 0004 2721 6944
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 2012
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An experimental attempt to consider the history of the London Missionary Society (LMS) from the lens of the artefacts that accumulated at its London headquarters, which included a museum from 1814 until 1910. The movement of these things through space and over time offers a rich perspective for considering the impacts on Britain of its history of overseas missionary activity. Building on anthropological debates about exchange, material culture, and the agency of things, the biographies of particular objects are explored in relation to the processes involved in the assemblage, circulation and dispersal of the LMS collection. Methodologically, the research is an attempt to develop what Latour has called a symmetrical anthropology, with archaeological approaches to the material products of historical processes as an important dimension of this. Drawing on attempts to study ‘along the grain’ in historical anthropology, and to move beyond iconoclasm as a critical stance, it is argued that museums should be understood as ‘other places’ in which objects are made by techniques of inscription and confinement which have a significant ceremonial dimension. At the same time, certain charismatic objects are shown to have transcended these contexts of confinement, affecting those they encounter, and shaping history around themselves.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General) ; BV Practical Theology ; D204 Modern History ; GN Anthropology