- Copyright Page
- List of Contributors
- Words or Things in American History?
- Artifacts and Their Functions
- Mastery, Artifice, and the Natural Order: A Jewel from the Early Modern Pearl Industry
- Food and Cognition: <i>Henry Norwood’s</i> A Voyage to Virginia
- On Pins and Needles: Straight Pins, Safety Pins, and Spectacularity
- Mind, Time, and Material Engagement
- Material Time
- Remaking the Kitchen, 1800–1850
- Boston Electric: Science by “Mail Order” and Bricolage at Colonial Harvard
- Making Knowledge Claims in the Eighteenth-Century British Museum
- The Ever-Changing Technology and Significance of Silk on the Silk Road
- Science, Play, and the Material Culture of Twentieth-Century American Boyhood
- The Sensory Web of Vision: Enchantment and Agency in Religious Material Culture
- Sensiotics, or the Study of the Senses in Material Culture and History in Africa and Beyond
- The Numinous Body and the Symbolism of Human Remains
- Symbolic Things and Social Performance: Christmas Nativity Scenes in Late Nineteenth-Century Santiago de Chile
- Heritage Religion and the Mormons
- From Confiscation to Collection: The Objects of China’s Cultural Revolution
- Persons and Things in Marseille and Lucca, 1300–1450
- Cloth and the Rituals of Encounter in La Florida: Weaving and Unraveling the Code
- Street “Luxuries”: Food Hawking in Early Modern Rome
- Ebony and Ivory: Pianos, People, Property, and Freedom on the Plantation, 1861–1870
- The Material Culture of Furniture Production in the British Colonies
- Material Culture, Museums, and the Creation of Multiple Meanings
- Chronology and Time: Northern European Coastal Settlements and Societies, c. 500–1050
- Materialities in the Making of World Histories: South Asia and the South Pacific
- Mapping History in Clay and Skin: Strategies for Remembrance among Ga’ anda of Northeastern Nigeria
- Remember Me: Sensibility and the Sacred in Early Mormonism
- Housing History: The Colonial Revival as Consumer Culture
- Collecting as Historical Practice and the Conundrum of the Unmoored Object
Abstract and Keywords
With the aim of interrogating material culture in the origins of the globalized discipline of history, this chapter considers some objects of historical narration in the wider world. The focus is on how these material objects engaged with the physicality of print. There were entanglements and layerings of materiality, across the problematic and traditional divides of oral and textual, ephemeral and durable, localized and global. Two different contexts that experienced the invasive power of British and Euro-American colonialism, nineteenth-century Sri Lanka and New Zealand, are brought together. From Sri Lanka, palm-leaf manuscripts, which narrate the moment of British arrival and warfare with the British, are studied for their flexibility, which set the terms for the national and racial politics of colonial print histories. From Aotearoa New Zealand, genealogies charting ancestral origin are studied for their afterlife in print. This comparison between Sri Lanka and New Zealand allows the plural origins of the discipline of history to be tracked. These plural origins were flattened over time into a connected and globalized imperial narrative of uniformity as colonial print was diffused in the form of books and periodicals and as these materials constructed a linear history of progress. To understand the encompassing power of imperialism is to see empire as a collection of material culture, which generated the meaning of history as a universal narrative in words and print.
Sujit Sivasundaram is Reader in World History at the University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge.
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