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Changing Contexts, Shifting MeaningsTransformations of Cultural Traditions in Oceania$
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Elfriede Hermann

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833664

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833664.001.0001

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Changing Contexts, Shifting Meanings

Changing Contexts, Shifting Meanings

The Cook/Forster Collection, for Example

(p.20) Changing Contexts, Shifting Meanings
Changing Contexts, Shifting Meanings

Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter focuses on the Göttingen–Cook/Forster Collection. Artifacts in the collection originated mainly from different islands and cultures from the South Seas; they were collected during the three voyages that James Cook undertook between 1768 and 1780 on behalf of the British Crown. Shortly after the return of the ships from the first voyage, some items came into the possession of the Academic Museum of Göttingen University. They formed the basis of what became the world's largest collection of artifacts from the Pacific assembled during the voyages by scientists and crew members under varying circumstances. This chapter shows that the Göttingen collection is one that came into being through the actions of a great number of people with different backgrounds, motivations, and goals. This applies to those who came into direct contact with the inhabitants of the islands in the South Pacific, the Admiralty representatives on the ships, the scientists, and the numerous crew members, who in turn came from a variety of cultural and social backgrounds. It applies, too, to art dealers and collectors who bought objects singly or in bulk upon the return of the ships to London. It applies as well to those people who were responsible for the transfer of the “natural and artificial curiosities,” as they were called, to Göttingen University, where they served as objects of scholarly research. Depending on the actors and the contexts, the artifacts conveyed different meanings and served different purposes.

Keywords:   Göttingen collection, South Pacific artifacts, James Cook, Göttingen University

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