The concerns of this study are located at the intersections of museum studies
and the history of anthropology. Our primary interest with regard to the for-
mer focuses on the varied ways in which museums act on social worlds. These
include, but are not limited to, their exhibition practices, which we consider
alongside the ways in which museums obtain and order their collections. Our
interests relating to the latter concern how its practices have been shaped
by its relations to mechanisms for the governance of populations. We bring
these two sets of questions together to examine the connections between
museums and anthropology associated with the articulation of a new set of
relations between the practices of collecting, ordering, and governing that
characterized the development of anthropological fieldwork in the closing
de cades of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century.
We examine these practices through a set of case studies that illustrate the
diff er ent social and governmental logics under lying their interconnections
in diff er ent sociohistorical contexts. The historical horizon encompassed by
these case studies stretches from the Torres Strait Island expeditions led by
Alfred Cort Haddon in the 1880s and 1890s through to the fieldwork mis-
sions of the Musée de l’Homme (mh) in the 1930s and the influence of the
Boasian culture concept on the development of American assimilationist
policies in the 1930s and 1940s. We take in, en route, the fieldwork expedi-
tions of Baldwin Spencer and Frank Gillen to Central Australia; the varied
versions of Māori culture informing a connected set of collecting, ordering,
and governing practices in early twentieth- century Aotearoa/New Zealand;
and the role of the Papuan Official Collection established by Hubert Murray
in Papua. If this last case stretches our definition of museums beyond its
conventional limits, the same is true of our inclusion of Mass- Observation
(m-o) among our case studies. This was, however, a proj ect whose collecting
practices partly derived from and resonated with anthropological fieldwork,
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