Collecting while Converting: Missionaries and Ethnographics

Journal of Art Historiography. Number 12, June  2015

Abstract: This paper concerns an understudied yet germane aspect of western receptions and interpretations of indigenous ritual art around 1900: the role of Christian missionaries, who furnished countless indigenous art objects, and that of missionary propaganda. The latter used to stress the heroic agency of misionaries in the field combating superstition and confiscating or burning idols. However, what happened in the field often turns out to have been different and more richly checkered than the crude image usually projected on the home front by the boards of missionary organisations and periodicals. We analyze three case studies which show a consideable role for native agency and autonomous local developments, with missionaries as relatively passive bystanders.


Re-Collecting Father Viegen’s Asmat Objects (Eng.)

Évocation des objets asmat du père Viegen (Fr.)

Tribal Art Magazine No. 73 (Autumn 2014): 112 – 129.


The korwar Collection of Henry Blekkink

Tribal Art Magazine No. 63 (2012): 89-97.


Volkenkundige missiecollecties

Bulletin Konferentie Nederlandse Religieuzen, maart 2010: 18-19.


Tongan club iconography: An attempt to unravel visual metaphors through myth

Journal of the Polynesian Society 116 (2007): 451-61