1st Edition

Displaced Things in Museums and Beyond Loss, Liminality and Hopeful Encounters

By Sandra H. Dudley Copyright 2021
    160 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    160 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Displaced Things in Museums and Beyond looks anew at the lives, effects and possibilities of things. Starting from the perspectives of things themselves, it outlines a particular, displacement approach to the museum, anthropology and material culture.

    The book explores the ways in which the objects are experienced in their present, displaced settings, and the implications and potentialities they carry. It offers insights into matters of difference and the hope that may be offered by transformative encounters between persons and things. Drawing on anthropological studies of ritual to conceptualise and examine displacement and its implications and possibilities, Dudley develops her arguments through exploration of displaced objects now in museums and dislocated or exiled from their prior geographical, historical, cultural, intellectual and personal contexts. The book’s approach and conclusions are relevant far beyond the museum, showing that even in the most difficult of circumstances there is agency, distinction and dignity in the choices and impacts that are made, and that things and places as well as people have efficacy and potency in those choices.

    In Displaced Things, displacement emerges as fundamental to understanding the lives of things and their relationships with human beings, and the places, however defined, that they make and pass within. The book will be essential reading for academics and students engaged in the study of museums, heritage, anthropology, culture and history.


    Part I Departures

    Chapter 1 Displaced things

    Displacement anthropology

    Perspectives of things

    Optimistic things

    Chapter 2 Separating things




    Part II Liminal things

    Chapter 3 Representational things





    Chapter 4 Subjunctive things





    Part III Reincorporations

    Chapter 5 Hopeful things

    Potent things

    Displacement reversals

    Familiar strange



    Sandra H. Dudley is Professor of Museum Anthropology and Head of the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester. Her research is focused in Southeast Asia and South Asia (Myanmar, Thailand, India) and the UK. She is author of Materialising Exile (2010), editor of Museum Materialities (2010) and Museum Objects (2012), and co-editor of Textiles from Burma (2003), The Thing about Museums (2011) and Narrating Objects, Collecting Stories (2012).