Collectors, guides and companions : a textual and material analysis of collecting zoological specimens in the Raffles and its neighbouring museums (1800 - 1930)
Lee, Jia Min
Date of Issue2016
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
In this thesis I explore the interaction between museum curators and their “native” assistants in the process of collecting zoological specimens for the Raffles and its neighbouring museums. These “invisible” actors are often left out of history despite playing vital roles in the processes and even practices of collecting for the museums. By recognising their role according to these three different categories — Guide, Collector and Companion — I propose that the interaction between these curators and the “natives” have emerged in an interplay of the utilitarian and the mystic over the course of the collecting activity on the collecting grounds of British North Borneo and the Federated Malay States from 1880 to 1930. This thesis seeks to illustrate that collecting expeditions organised by the museums are socially complex activities where multiple social worlds had collided and manifested themselves in its processes and practices. It expounds on these processes and practices of collecting by studying the collective application of local knowledge by these “natives” on the collecting grounds. Such knowledge refers to not just practical skills or tools but also refers to the understanding of one’s environment and local customs to the collecting field.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University