Unpacking the Collection

Part of the series One World Archaeology pp 165-182


Agency, Prestige and Politics: Dutch Collecting Abroad and Local Responses

  • Pieter ter KeursAffiliated withDepartment of Collections and Research, National Museum of Antiquities Email author 

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European collecting abroad was more than simply a cultured activity of the elite and a search for beautiful things. Instead, collectors have always worked within national and local political and economic networks. This chapter discusses the various roles of local communities, politicians and middlemen in the process of Dutch collecting in early nineteenth century Indonesia and the Mediterranean. In that period, European nationalism led to unprecedented desires for the expansion of horizons through travel and the collection of trophies from outside Europe. This was partly a search for the roots of European culture (related to the Romantic Movement) and partly triggered by status and prestige, but economic reasons were also important. Although local incentives to participate in this drive to collect were usually not documented, we can begin to identify reasons why local informants engaged with collectors.