Dividing the spoils

Perspectives on military collections and the British empire

Edited by Henrietta Lidchi and Stuart Allan

Dividing the spoils


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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3920-7
  • Pages: 344
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: September 2020
  • BIC Category: Modern History, History, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, HISTORY / Military / General, ART / Museum Studies, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Humanities / Military history, Reference, information & interdisciplinary subjects / Museology & heritage studies
  • Series: Studies in Imperialism


At a time of heightened international interest in the colonial dimensions of museum collections, Dividing the Spoils provides new perspectives on the motivations and circumstances whereby collections were appropriated and acquired during colonial military service. Combining approaches from the fields of material anthropology, imperial and military history, this book argues for a deeper examination of these collections within a range of intercultural histories that include alliance, diplomacy, curiosity and enquiry, as well as expropriation and cultural hegemony.

As museums across Europe reckon with the post-colonial legacies of their collections, Dividing the Spoils explores how the amassing of objects was understood and governed in British military culture, and considers how objects functioned in museum collections thereafter, suggesting new avenues for sustained investigation in a controversial, contested field.


Introduction: dividing the spoils - Henrietta Lidchi and Stuart Allan

Part I Ideologies of empire and governance
1 Spoils of war: custom and practice - Edward M. Spiers
2 The agency of objects: a contrasting choreography of flags, military booty and skulls from late nineteenth-century Africa - John Mack
3 Collecting and the trophy - John M. MacKenzie

Part II Military collecting cultures
4 Soldiering archaeology: Pitt Rivers and collecting 'Primitive Warfare' - Christopher Evans
5 The officers' mess: an anthropology and history of the military interior - Lt Col Charles Kirke (Rtd) and Nicole M. Hartwell
6 Seeing Tibet through soldiers' eyes: photograph albums in regimental museums - Henrietta Lidchi with Rosanna Nicolson
7 A regimental culture of collecting - Desmond Thomas

Part III The afterlives of military collections
8 Military histories of 'Summer Palace' objects from China in military museums in the United Kingdom - Louise Tythacott
9 Indigenising folk art: eighteenth-century powder horns in British military collections - Stuart Allan and Henrietta Lidchi
10 Community consultation and shaping of the National Army Museum's Insight gallery - Alastair Massie
11 Mementoes of power and conquest: Sikh jewellery in the collection of National Museums Scotland - Friederike Voigt

Afterword: material reckonings with military histories - Henrietta Lidchi

Archival sources


Henrietta Lidchi is Chief Curator at the National Museum van Wereldculturen, Netherlands, and a Research Fellow at National Museums Scotland
Stuart Allan is Keeper of Scottish History and Archaeology at National Museums Scotland

Dividing the spoils

Edited by Henrietta Lidchi, Stuart Allan

Hardcover £85.00 / $130.00

Paperback £25.00 / $36.95

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