Violence, globalization and the trade in “ethnographic” artefacts in nineteenth-century Sudan

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Zoe Cormack
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This article explores the links between African artefacts in European museum collections and the slave and ivory trade in Sudan in the nineteenth century. It examines how ‘ethnographic’ collections were acquired from southern Sudan and how this process was entangled with the expansion of predatory commerce. Presenting evidence from contemporary travel accounts, museum archives and from the examination of objects themselves, the author argues that the nineteenth-century trade in artefacts from South Sudan was inseparable from a history of enslavement and extraction. This evidence from Sudan illuminates the relationship between collecting artefacts in Africa and other markets. It shows how collecting interests intersected with Ottoman and European imperial networks in Sudan and helps to better understand the history of African collections in European museums.
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