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Observing, Collecting and Governing “Ourselves” and “Others”: Mass-Observation's Fieldwork Agencements

Harrison, R; (2014) Observing, Collecting and Governing “Ourselves” and “Others”: Mass-Observation's Fieldwork Agencements. History and Anthropology , 25 (2) 227 - 245. 10.1080/02757206.2014.882835. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between oligoptic visual economies and liberal technologies of government which emerge from a consideration of the field collecting practices of Mass-Observation (MO), a social research movement established in the years leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War which attempted to develop an anthropology of British “everyday” life. Focussing on MO's fieldwork agencements, the paper shows how the project brought together museological methods of collecting and curating with new mechanisms of collective self-watching, and the ways in which these mechanisms became implicated in technologies of government through its archival operations. In the connections it drew between the liberal subjectivities of collective self-watching and surrealist aesthetic practices, MO played a significant role in shaping new governmental rationalities, with implications for both metropolitan and colonial populations, through its interlinked conceptions of “mass” and “morale”. These formed part of a broader scientific–administrative–bureaucratic apparatus which facilitated the classification, ordering and governance of populations and “things” in this and later periods.

Type: Article
Title: Observing, Collecting and Governing “Ourselves” and “Others”: Mass-Observation's Fieldwork Agencements
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/02757206.2014.882835
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02757206.2014.882835
Language: English
Additional information: © 2014 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis. This is an Open Access article. Non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly attributed, cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way, is permitted. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted
Keywords: Governmentality, Fieldwork, Anthropology at home, Collecting, Oligoptic visual economies, Mass Observation, Museums, History of Anthropology
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1421408
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