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Tibetan Collections in Scottish Museums 1890-1930: A Critical Historiography of Missionary and Military Intent

Dr Inbal Livne was awarded her degree in 2014, and is now Curator (Diversifying Collections) at John Rylands Library and Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre, University of Manchester

Last updated: 10 February 2022

About the research

Over eighty percent of Tibetan material now held at the National Museum of Scotland can be provenanced to specific individuals, whose biographies are enhanced and made tangible through the wide array of Tibetan objects they chose to collect.

Inbal Livne’s research explored how collecting Tibetan objects influenced the construction of Tibet in the western imagination and how collectors used them to further their personal, organisational (missionary or military) and imperial desires and expectations.  The Tibetan collections in Edinburgh with those in other Scottish museums make up a mosaic of understandings that are scholarly and personal, local and universal, connecting a physically and intellectually distanced imperial border to the heart of Scottish life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Results from the emerging research were discussed as part of a National Partnerships Knowledge Exchange workshop at the National Museums Scotland (October 2010) and an academic conference at the University of Stirling on '(Mis)representing Cultures and Objects: Critical Approaches to Museological Collections' (May 2014).

Doctoral research project details

Project title

Tibetan Collections in Scottish Museums 1890-1930: A Critical Historiography of Missionary and Military Intent’

Student

Dr Inbal Livne

Project active

2009 - 2013

Funder

Collaborative Doctoral Award funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council

University of Stirling Supervisor

T. Fitzgerald and M. Marten - Department of Languages, Cultures and Religions

Research theme

Scotland's Material Heritage, Identities and Cultural Contacts

Publications

Livne, Inbal. “The many Purposes of Missionary Work: Annie Royle Taylor as Missionary, Travel Writer, Collector and Empire Builder”, in Protestant Missions and Local Encounters in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, edited by Hilde Nielssen, Inger Marie Okkenhaug and Karina Hestad Skeie, 43-70. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2011.

Livne, Inbal. “‘Museum’ Sites in Early Twentieth-Century Edinburgh: an Encounter Between Tibetan Material Culture and Edinburgh Society”, Journal of Museum History, Vol.6, No.1, (January 2013): 39-55.

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