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Material Enactment of Disciplines at the University of Oxford Museums



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Rose, Sydney Stewart 


Archaeology, Anthropology, Natural History Studies, and Heritage Studies have been historically divided into discrete fields of study. This work confronts these divisions in a broad sense, drawing attention to the fact that these are not imagined divides but very real physical divisions which are made visible through the separation of materials in museological collections. Drawing parallels between the epistemological separation of disciplines and the physical division of materials which occurred at the University of Oxford, this article explores how the Pitt Rivers Museum, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and the Ashmolean Museum were reconceptualised as separate museums of individual disciplines. This event is used to examine how these divides create differences in the treatment of human remains as well as how knowledge and disciplines are ordered, re-formed, and physically re-shaped through museum collections. Finally, this work suggests that this material enactment of the disciplines provides an opportunity to restructure our disciplines through alterations to the boundaries of museological collections.



museum studies, United Kingdom, material enactment, human remains

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Rethinking the Archaeology–Heritage Divide

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