The Beauty of Letting Go

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter


There seems to be a constant decay of all our ideas; even of those which are struck deepest, and in minds the most retentive, so that if they be not sometimes renewed by repeated exercises of the senses, or reflections on those kinds of objects which at first occasioned them, the print wears out, and at last there remains nothing to be seen. John Locke, Human Understanding Archaeology and museology constantly balance their emancipatory potential against their legacies as colonial controlling processes. Do archaeology and museums occupy a key space in contemporary identity formation? Are they part of the modern state's inventory of attributes rather than public " contact zones? " Museums' attempt to reinvent themselves as socially engaged places of memory are hindered by an embedded desire to catalogue, conserve, and display objects. Many of the peoples whose objects are collected and displayed believe in an encultured world in which the decay and death of people, objects, places, and time was and remains expected. We need to consider how objects work and what their rights might be. Objects, places, and people have typically " messy " biographies that offer points of attachment for a wide range of sensory engagement. Archaeology's two strengths, materiality and context, can productively expose significant ruptures in master narratives through archaeologies of archive that ask how objects come to be collected and displayed
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSensible objects
Subtitle of host publication Museums, colonialism and the senses
EditorsElizabeth Edwards, Chris Gosden, Ruth Phillips
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherBerg Publishers
Number of pages33
ISBN (Print) 9781845203245
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Publication series

NameAnthropology of the senses


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