Same Provenances in Different Disciplines Impulses for a Transdisciplinary Approach by Jennifer Tadge

Panel: Transdisciplinary Provenance Research on Objects from Colonial Contexts
Tuesday, 22 June, 11:15 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. (CET)


Collecting in colonial contexts is by no means a phenomenon pertaining to ethnological objects only. Many of the collecting individuals and institutions had a much broader range of interests, as can be seen in various European museums today.
This becomes particularly apparent at multi-disciplinary museums such as the Landesmuseum Natur und Mensch Oldenburg. When examining the acquisition and inventory records of such museums, it is evident that the same collectors gave both ethnological objects and natural history material to the museum at the same time. However, the various classes of objects were quickly separated from each other after their arrival, with the result that objects of possibly shared provenance are today kept in different storerooms, recorded in different databases, and looked after and researched by scientists in their respective fields. Therefore, the handling of the various types of objects and the documentation of their provenance may differ significantly.
The presentation will give impulses for a transdisciplinary approach to such research of shared provenances. It will highlight the close interrelation of natural history and ethnological collecting, but also point out specific challenges and requirements inherent in this approach. Particularly in multi-disciplinary museums, transdisciplinary provenance research on common collector personalities and contexts of origin is an opportunity or even an imperative. However, increasing digitization and networking can also result in synergy effects for other types of museums; for example, they may give clues on collector networks beyond the respective museums’ disciplinary focus.


Jennifer Tadge studied Ethnology and Arabic Studies at the University of Leipzig, as well as Museology at the University of Applied Sciences Leipzig. Since September 2018 she has been a PhD candidate in the joint project “Provenance Research in Non-European Collections and Ethnology in Lower Saxony” at the Landesmuseum Natur und Mensch Oldenburg. Her PhD thesis with the working title “Colonial Collecting Practices in Military Contexts” is supervised by Prof. Dr. Dagmar Freist at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Institute of History.