Between the 1890s and 1930s, innumerable collecting expeditions traversed the globe in pursuit of scientific facts and specimens for natural history and the allied field of anthropology. This symposium draws together scholars working on the anthropology of expeditions and their collected natural and cultural materials. There was tremendous diversity in the size, length, and organization of expeditions; some fieldworkers traveled solo for years in familiar places, while others formed specialized caravans which set foot for a fortnight along untraveled paths. Itineraries were structured by engagements with bureaucrats, local intermediaries, and native collectors who played central roles in shaping the collections shipped from the field. This symposium is organized around three themes which explore the fieldwork of expeditions, the material culture of exploration, and the dispersal of collections. Travel and assemblage considers the narratives, technologies, and collecting habits of expedition members. Visualities examines the processes and encounters of artistic work in the field and the research and exhibitions that were the outcome of those labors. And, after-lives and reassemblage assesses the research, and exhibition potential of expedition objects, archived documentation, and photographs for museums of natural history and anthropology. Although dreams of totality were the rationale of most expeditions, the papers presented here highlight their idiosyncrasies and unexpected outcomes, and the bearing they could have for histories of the natural sciences and anthropology.

February 2

Peter N. Miller
Bard Graduate Center
Opening Remarks

Erin Hasinoff
Bard Graduate Center / American Museum of Natural History
Introduction and Welcome

Henrika Kuklick
University of Pennsylvania
Science as Adventure

February 3
Panel I: Travel and Assemblage

Laurel Kendall
Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History
A Most Solitary Expeditionist: Berthold Laufer Collecting China

Erik Mueggler
University of Michigan
Love, Lineage, and the Transmigration of Souls during the Gansu Adventure of Joseph Rock, Li Shichen, He Shuishan, Zhao Zhongdian, et al., 1924-1927”

Panel II: Visualities

Ira Jacknis
Phoebe A. Hearst Museum, University of California, Berkeley
In the Field / En Plein Air: The Art of Anthropological Display at the American Museum of Natural History, 1905–30

Mark Elliott
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge
Different Types: Dealing with Marguerite Milward’s Sculptural Odyssey

Panel III: After-Lives and Reassemblage

Joshua Bell
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
The Lives of ‘Sweet’ Things: Performances of the 1928 USDA Sugarcane Expedition Collections

Mark Turin
Digital Himalaya Project and World Oral Literature Project, University of Cambridge and Yale University
Orphaned Collections, Data Cemeteries and Himalayan Archives: The Ebb and Flow of Digital Documents from the Field