Human Skulls as Anthropological Objects

Part of the Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series book series (CIPCSS)


The previous chapter followed the contingent emergence of a collection of human skulls in the context of a collection of commercial and industrial products sent from Macao to museums in Lisbon and Coimbra. In Macao, the concern with coordinating a heterogeneous consignment in the light of rigid principles of classification and description resulted in a collection with wordless material things. The collection of skulls was one set of objects affected by this process. As a consequence, a link crucial to the scientific value of human remains as anthropological collections was dramatically affected. In 1882, the skulls arrived at Coimbra museum without ‘histories’ and dissociated from the reports written by the original collectors in Timor. This chapter continues the analysis of the trajectory of the attachments of skulls to words and ‘histories’. The object is to describe the process through which the human skulls sent unpredictably from Macao were to reappear in the words of Coimbra academics as ‘objects of anthropology’.


Human Race Human Remains Anthropological Study Human Skull Human Cranium 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Ricardo Nuno Afonso Roque 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Social SciencesUniversity of LisbonPortugal

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