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Title: Tibetan Collections in Scottish Museum 1890-1930: A Critical Historiography of Missionary and Military Intent.
Author(s): Livne, Inbal
Supervisor(s): Fitzgerald, Timothy
Marten, Michael
Lidchi, Henrietta
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This thesis looks at Tibetan material culture in Scottish museums, collected between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It examines how collectors used Tibetan objects to construct both Tibet in the western imagination and to further personal, organisational and imperial desires and expectations. Through an analysis of the highly provenanced material available in Scottish museums, collectors will be grouped in three categories: missionaries, military personnel and colonial collectors. These are not only divided by occupation, but also by ideological frames of reference. The historical moments in which these different collector groups encountered Tibetan material culture will provide a framework for an examination of the ways that collectors accessed, collected, interpreted, used and displayed objects. Within the framework of post-colonial theory, this thesis seeks new ways of understanding assumptive concepts and terminology that has become embedded in western analysis of Tibetan material culture. These include Tibetan Buddhism as a 'religion', 'Tibetan art', 'Tibetan Buddhist art' and the position of Tibetan 'art' versus 'ethnography' in western hierarchies of value. These theoretical concerns are scrutinised through an anthropological methodology, based on the concept of 'object biography', to create an interdisciplinary model for examining objects and texts. Using this model, I will demonstrate that collectors, whilst giving Tibetan material culture a variety of social roles, invested these categories with a range of values. Yet despite this heterogeneity, the mosaic of knowledge produced about Tibet by these varying encounters, established and then cemented British understandings of Tibetan material culture in specific ways, constructed to assist in the British imperial domination of British-Tibetan relations. I will argue that on entering the museum, these richly textured object biographies were 'flattened out', and the information embedded within them that gave traction to interpretations of British-Tibetan encounters was hidden from view, requiring this study to make visible once more the heterogeneity, richness and significance of Tibetan material culture in Scottish museums.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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