Colonial Collecting Strategies by Ndzodo Awono

Panel: Collecting Strategies and Collectors‘ Networks in European Colonies 
Monday, 21 June, 3:15 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. (CET)


My paper is based on the analysis of the acquisition circumstances of the Cameroon collection in the Übersee-Museum Bremen. Ten collecting strategies were recorded that enabled the colonial rulers to gain access to the cultural treasures of non-European peoples. Punitive expeditions were among the forms of appropriation. With the help of four examples, I will discuss the punitive expeditions as a collecting method. Meetings with local rulers, round trips or inspection trips by officials were suitable occasions for collecting. Collections were also made during research expeditions. The researchers travelled through the regions to study the customs and traditions of the groups, and they were constantly in contact with the people and their objects. Companies and businessmen or merchants were interested in collecting. Missionaries also took an active part in collecting. They used violence against indigenous people and took advantage of the conversion ceremonies to confiscate idols and other symbols of indigenous beliefs. According to documents, the collectors acquired objects for sale in some places. Colonial collecting methods also included trial, medical treatment and war reparations.


Born on 06.09.1966 in Nkol-Mendouga near Yaoundé. 1973-1990 attended school. 1990-1993 and 2001-2014 studied German at the University of Yaoundé. 2007 and 2010 obtained the Maîtrise and DEA. 2010-2014 Lecturer in German colonial history at the University of Yaoundé I. 2014-2015 DAAD scholarship holder at the LMU Munich. 2017-2021 PhD student and research assistant at the University of Hamburg, participation in the project "Colonial Traces" at the Übersee-Museum Bremen. Since April 2021 research assistant on the project "The New Brisance of Old Objects" at the Institute of Ethnology, University of Göttingen.