This session considers the role of transatlantic mobilities - of people, objects and ideas - in anthropological museum contexts in the mid- to late-nineteenth century. Approaching the museum as a site of convergence, it considers practices of collecting, knowledge production and dissemination.
Museums have been conceptualized as relational, "multi-sited, multi-authored, emergent entities" (Gosden and Larsen 2007). They are both sites and contexts where objects, people, and ideas converge and transverse. Museums, and their close relatives, worlds' fairs, may be considered the primary sites for the collection of anthropological objects, and for knowledge production and dissemination in the mid- to late-nineteenth century. The same period saw the rise of transatlantic exchanges between North America and Europe, through the embodied mobility of anthropologists, anthropological objects, texts, and displays. This session focuses on transatlantic mobilities that characterize the convergences of objects, people, and ideas occurring in anthropological museum contexts, as well as those influenced by museum institutions. Proposals for papers which address a range of themes are welcomed, of which some examples are: technological, economic and geopolitical contingencies; the practices and mechanisms of mobility; transatlantic social networks; spatial, cognitive, aesthetic, material and affective dimensions of knowledge transfer; object biographies; exchange agents and local relations; audience reception; actors and institutions; the limits of mobility; the legacy of museum anthropology and anthropological museums. Key questions might include: to what extent did international museums shape local practices of anthropological collecting and knowledge production? What was the nature of the connections between individual museums and their agents in a transatlantic context? How do these formations continue to impact museum and disciplinary practice?