From French Indochina to Paris and back again: The Circulation of Objects, People, and Information, 1900-1932

Nélia Dias


This article examines the ways in which the processes of collecting, ordering and governing were imbricated both in the metropole and in the colony. Focused on the ethnographic missions carried out by the Musée d’Ethnographie du Trocadéro(MET) and by the École Française d’Extrême Orient from 1900 to the 1930s, the paper explores the network of local collectors, the methodological protocols and standards, the collecting practices, and how objects were gathered in the field for displays at the MET in Paris and at the forthcoming ethnological museum at Dalat in French Indochina (what is now Vietnam). The article argues that the circulation of objects, and the information related to those objects, conceives both the metropole and the colony as sites for the production of ethnological knowledge. It also seeks to demonstrate that collecting practices entailed distinct government effects both in metropolitan France and in colonial Indochina.

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Copyright (c) 2016 Nélia Dias

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360