Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Examining Commodity, Agency, and Value: Prehistoric French Replicas, Casts, and "Frauds" within the National Museum of Natural History's Collection
by Kamph, Molly, M.A., The George Washington University, 2017, 49; 10283252
Abstract (Summary)

From approximately 1850 to the beginning of World War II, archaeological collaboration between the United States and France was at its peak in terms of the study of human prehistory. This span of time will be referred to as a “golden age” of exchange, which resulted in thousands of objects being sent from France to be housed in museums and institutions of higher education in the United States. Within these collections, the presence of replicas, casts, and even objects questionably catalogued by the museum as “frauds” highlight the underlying value of the broader collecting ideologies. Through a statistical analysis of the French prehistoric collections at the National Museum of Natural History that includes replicas, casts, and “frauds” as well as case studies into specific objects, I hope to explore the patterns of motivations and range of perspectives of the various actors within the process of creating, collecting, and distributing these objects. More in-depth, biographical case studies will also allow for a glimpse into the complex and often ambiguous social lives of certain objects within these collections (Kopytoff 1986). Overall, the presence of replicas, casts, and “frauds” becomes a lens into which commodity, agency, and value of the prehistoric French collections can be examined and analyzed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Brooks, Alison S.
Commitee: Isaac, Gwyneira
School: The George Washington University
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: MAI 56/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Museum studies
Keywords: France, Museum collections, Museums, Prehistoric archaeology
Publication Number: 10283252
ISBN: 978-1-369-81721-8
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