Tuesday 1 April 2014

The next meeting of the Colonial/Post-Colonial (POCO) group will be held in Room 205, 5 University Gardens at 17.00 on Tuesday 1st April 2014.

Our next speaker will be Rosie Spooner, who will be addressing: ‘Object Lessons: Changing Approaches to Imperial and Colonial Histories’.

Rosie Spooner is an early-career researcher, writer and curator originally from Toronto, and currently undertaking a Ph.D. in the History of Art department at the University of Glasgow. Looking at the material culture of colonial encounters, her doctoral research examines the movement of objects, people and ideas between England, Scotland and Canada through the mechanisms of the International Exhibition, exploring how these events functioned as sites where varied and complex colonial, national and imperial identities were propagated and performed. Her developing curatorial practice brings together historic and contemporary objects, artworks and exhibitionary models in an effort to re-frame these categories, issues which similarly underpin her academic research.

How have academics and commentators variously envisaged the British Empire, and how have approaches to researching and writing colonial and imperial histories shifted? Examining pieces of relevant historiography, this discussion is less concerned with historical findings and more centred on looking at how the subject or discipline of imperial studies has evolved. As well as tracing a kind of epistemological lineage, looking at key ideas, interpretations and arguments, I hope to share some of the approaches I am pursuing in my own research. Drawing on Ivan Gaskell’s contention that we are in the midst of a ‘tangible turn’ — a descendent of the linguistic and cultural turns before it — I consider how one can work with material culture, and draw on attendant methodologies, to further understandings of colonial, imperial and postcolonial histories. Central to my own research is a concern with what kinds of information material objects can reveal to the researcher, and how an analysis of their stories can contribute to existing areas of scholarship.

Recommended Readings:
– Antoinette Burton, ed., After the Imperial Turn: Thinking With and Through the Nation (Durham, NC.: Duke University Press, 2003). Particularly Burton’s introductory chapter.
– Sarah Longair and John McAleer, eds., Curating Empire: Museums and the British Imperial Experience (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012).
– Richard Price, “One Big Thing: Britain, Its Empire, and Their Imperial Culture,” Journal of British Studies 45, no. 3 (July 2006): 602–627.
– Nicholas Thomas, Colonialism’s Culture: Anthropology, Travel and Government (London: Polity Press, 1994).


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