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A.1919.338 (1)

Shaping Taste, Building Knowledge: Collecting China in Scotland, in the early 20th Century

Last updated: 8 February 2022

About the research

Tullia FraserThe presence of Chinese material culture in Scotland has grown significantly over the last 200 years, much of it during Britain’s imperial expansion. Through selected case studies, this project will be the first to explore collecting patterns as they manifest in the collections in Scotland, revealing the diverse and complex intellectual, social and political networks and connections that led to collection formation on the part of individuals and institutions. It will investigate the types of material culture collected, collecting practices, and diachronic changes in the early 20th century after the Opium Wars and other conflicts (1840-1900) through a range of perspectives, including material culture studies, post-colonialism and decolonization. It will contextualize how China was perceived through these collections, and the role they played in framing Scottish impressions of China at that time and subsequently. The research is particularly relevant to contemporary decolonisation debates in the museum sector through demonstrating how collecting in this era continues to influence perceptions of China and Chinese material culture, as well as informing how these Chinese collections should be presented, interpreted and used in learning programmes.


Lead image: Circular dish of porcelain decorated in underglaze blue with a qilin near a palm tree: China, early Qing dynasty, late 17th century to early 18th century.

Doctoral research project details

Project title

Shaping Taste, Building Knowledge: Collecting China in Scotland, in the early 20th Century


Tullia Fraser

Project active

2021 - present

University of Glasgow Supervisors

Professor Nick Pearce and Dr Minna Törmä - School of Culture & Creative Arts

National Museums Scotland Supervisors

Dr John Giblin - Global Arts, Cultures and Design department

Research theme

Scotland's Material Heritage, Identities and Cultural Contacts

Email icon Dr John Giblin

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