Collecting Across Cultures
Material Exchanges in the Early Modern Atlantic WorldUniversity of Pennsylvania Press The Early Modern Americas
In the early modern age more people traveled farther than at any earlier time in human history. Many returned home with stories of distant lands and at least some of the objects they collected during their journeys. And those who did not travel eagerly acquired wondrous materials that arrived from faraway places. Objects traveled various routes—personal, imperial, missionary, or trade—and moved not only across space but also across cultures.
Histories of the early modern global culture of collecting have focused for the most part on European Wunderkammern, or "cabinets of curiosities." But the passion for acquiring unfamiliar items rippled across many lands. The court in Java marveled at, collected, and displayed myriad goods brought through its halls. African princes traded captured members of other African groups so they could get the newest kinds of cloth produced in Europe. Native Americans sought colored glass beads made in Europe, often trading them to other indigenous groups. Items changed hands and crossed cultural boundaries frequently, often gaining new and valuable meanings in the process. An object that might have seemed mundane in some cultures could become a target of veneration in another.
The fourteen essays in Collecting Across Cultures represent work by an international group of historians, art historians, and historians of science. Each author explores a specific aspect of the cross-cultural history of collecting and display from the dawn of the sixteenth century to the early decades of the nineteenth century. As the essays attest, an examination of early modern collecting in cross-cultural contexts sheds light on the creative and complicated ways in which objects in collections served to create knowledge—some factual, some fictional—about distant peoples in an increasingly transnational world.
List of Illustrations
—Daniela Bleichmar and Peter C. Mancall
I. COLLECTING AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF KNOWLEDGE IN THE EARLY MODERN WORLD
Chapter 1. Seeing the World in a Room: Looking at Exotica in Early Modern Collections
Chapter 2. Collecting Global Icons: The Case of the Exotic Parasol
Chapter 3. Ancient Europe and Native Americans: A Comparative Reflection on the Roots of Antiquarianism
II. COLLECTING AND THE FORMATION OF GLOBAL NETWORKS
Chapter 4. Aztec Regalia and the Reformation of Display
—Carina L. Johnson
Chapter 5. Dead Natures or Still Lifes? Science, Art, and Collecting in the Spanish Baroque
—José Ramón Marcaida and Juan Pimentel
Chapter 6. Crying a Muck: Collecting, Domesticity, and Anomie in Seventeenth-Century Banten and England
Chapter 7. Collecting and Translating Knowledge Across Cultures: Capuchin Missionary Images of Early Modern Central Africa, 1650-1750
Chapter 8. European Wonders at the Court of Siam
III. COLLECTING PEOPLE
Chapter 9. Collecting and Accounting: Representing Slaves as Commodities in Jamaica, 1674-1784
Chapter 10. ''Collecting Americans'': The Anglo-American Experience from Cabot to NAGPRA
—Peter C. Mancall
IV. EUROPEAN COLLECTIONS OF AMERICANA IN THE EIGHTEENTH AND NINETEENTH CENTURIES
Chapter 11. Spanish Collections of Americana in the Late Eighteenth Century
—Paz Cabello Carro
Chapter 12. Martínez Compañón and His Illustrated ''Museum''
—Lisa Trever and Joanne Pillsbury
Chapter 13. Europe Rediscovers Latin America: Collecting Artifacts and Views in the First Decades of the Nineteenth Century
Chapter 14. Image and Experience in the Land of Nopal and Maguey: Collecting and Portraying Mexico in Two Nineteenth-Century French Albums
—Megan E. O'Neil
List of Contributors
"The essays in Collecting Across Cultures offer a fascinating new perspective on Europe's encounters with an ethnically and culturally diverse early modern world. . . . Collections and the objects within them are thus themselves imaginatively reconceptualized as sites of encounter and exchange."—British Journal for the History of Science