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Institute of Archaeology: History of Archaeology Network Seminar

May 28, 2014
Wednesday 11 June 2014, 5.15-6.15 pm Room G6 UCL Institute of Archaeology
From the collection of ‘curious survivals’ to the government of the masses: Museums, anthropology and the shaping of culture as an apparatus of government in Britain, 1900-1945
Rodney Harrison (UCL Institute of Archaeology)

Abstract: The absence of an English national folk museum in the early twentieth century presents a conundrum. This paper considers international developments in the relations between anthropology, archaeology, sociology and folklore studies in the first part of the twentieth century to explore why distinctions between rural, colonised and metropolitan populations were not able to be applied in England as they were on the Continent and in Scotland and the Isle of Man. It also considers how alternative models for ordering populations emerged immediately before and during the Second World War in Mass Observation’s project of an ‘anthropology at home’, in response to the problem of conceptualising English populations in museological terms. This conception of population, providing an alternative conception of ‘culture’, was central to the emergence of post-war British social science and the post-war British welfare state.

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