Reverend Voyce and Père O’Reilly’s excavated collection from Bougainville: a case study in transnational histories of archaeology in the Pacific

Eve Haddow, Emilie Dotte, Jim Specht

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Abstract

This paper considers the transnational collection, interpretation, and circulation of archaeological material acquired in North Solomon Islands (now the Autonomous Region of Bougainville) by Hobart born Methodist missionary the Reverend A. H. Voyce (1899–1984). In 1935, he gave an archaeological assemblage to Father P. O’Reilly, a French Marist priest, in the region to fulfil an ethnographic mission for the Musée d’Ethnographie du Trocadéro/ Musée de l’Homme in Paris, France. Understanding the context of their encounter through international missionary networks, and the subsequent curation and interpretation of the artefacts collected by Voyce in multiple countries and according to different academic traditions, requires an approach that transcends traditional, nationally framed histories. Voyce and O’Reilly were from different socio-cultural and religious backgrounds, deeply inscribed in different national histories. Yet, they were nodes in an extensive network linking early twentieth-century ‘missionary-ethnographers’, Pacific interlocutors, and international scholars that could sometimes transcend language and denominational barriers. Both Voyce and O’Reilly shared a particular interest in ancient artefacts that has positioned them as important contributors to the early twentieth-century formulation of Pacific archaeology; their collections and the ideas they supported quietly becoming significant legacies for the discipline. We cross-analyze the sets of data we have been gathering independently on Voyce and O’Reilly to examine this collection’s story as an exemplary case-study in the transnational history of science.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-28
Number of pages14
JournalHistorical Records of Australian Science
Volume32
Issue number1
Early online date10 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

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