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Conclusion

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

Abstract

This book has analysed the connections between anthropology, colonialism, and headhunting in the Portuguese empire between 1870 and 1930 by examining the micro-history of the circulation of human skulls and the stories told about them. The investigation mapped the movement of objects and documents. The notion of the archive as circulating collections of records enabled me to explore the connections between skulls and networks of texts and stories over time and across boundaries. This revealed that links between the skulls and such semantic networks were contingent and vulnerable. It also revealed that connections between colonialism, headhunting, and anthropology might well result from the retrospective construction of knowledge about them. The epistemic ordering of the historical identities of things created multiple connections between colonial contexts, ritual violence, and anthropological concepts. The micro-history of the Coimbra collection of Timorese crania brought these broader issues to light. In now concluding, I intend to elaborate on some of the implications of the materials discussed here and to explore the wider potential of the argument about colonial interaction and anthropology adopted in the previous chapters. Firstly, I will consider the significance of parasitism as a conceptual framework for the comparative study of colonialism and intercultural exchange. Secondly, I will observe how an approach focused on objects and its circulating archives might open up new directions in the historical analysis of collections.

Keywords

Human Remains Museum Collection Colonial Rule Colonial Power Colonial History 
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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Notes

  1. 2.
    Georg Simmel, ‘The Problem of Sociology’, in On Individuality and Social Forms. Selected Writings, ed. and trans. Donald Levine (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), p. 24.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    The late European imperial expansion might have not broken completely with former imperial practices of co-opting indigenous classes and seeking association with local systems. Cf. Frederic Cooper, Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), p. 28.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Another example would be early British attempts to govern India according to what was perceived as indigenous customs and practices. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, British officials had to be present and in effect provide the official legitimacy for sati or widow burnings until 1829 when the practice was eventually abolished. See Lata Mani, Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998)Google Scholar
  4. and Andrea Major, Pious Flames: European Encounters with Sari (1500–1830) (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006). I thank Kim Wagner for these references and the comparative point.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Indigenous slave-raiding in Southeast Asia, for instance, is said to have increased as a result of British demand for local products in the early nineteenth century. Cf. Elson, ‘International Commerce, the State and Society’, p. 136; Rodney Needham, Sumba and the Slave-trade (Clayton: Monash University Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, 1983).Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    For an overview of African societies and the Atlantic slave-trade, cf. John Iliffe, Africans: The History of a Continent (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), ch. 7.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Martin Klein, Slavery and Colonial Rule in French West Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 12.
    Michael Taussig, Shamanism, Colonialism and the Wild Man. A Study in Terror and Healing (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), p. 62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 13.
    New scholarship, in fact, is appearing in this direction. See Geoffrey Bowker, Memory Practices in the Sciences (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2006).Google Scholar
  10. 14.
    See Deanne Henchant, ‘Practicalities in the Return of Remains: The Importance of Provenance and the Question of Unprovenanced Remains’, in Fforde, Hubert and Turnbull (eds), The Dead and their Possessions (London: Routledge, 2001), pp. 312–16.Google Scholar
  11. 15.
    Working Group on Human Remains in Museum Collections, Report of the Working Group on Human Remains in Museum Collections, 2003, http://www.culture.gov.uk/reference_library (updated February 2007), p. 147.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ricardo Nuno Afonso Roque 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Social SciencesUniversity of LisbonPortugal

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