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The 'Strange Beginnings' of the Institute of Archaeology – Rehoming Flinders Petrie's 'Homeless Palestinian Collection'

Butler, Beverley; (2022) The 'Strange Beginnings' of the Institute of Archaeology – Rehoming Flinders Petrie's 'Homeless Palestinian Collection'. Jerusalem Quarterly , 90 pp. 37-57. Green open access

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Abstract

Palestine has a material presence in the story of the founding of the Institute of Archaeology (IoA) in London. The first institute director, Mortimer Wheeler, in his 1953 address on the centenary of Flinders Petrie's birth, tells of the vital role that Petrie's renown, and his “homeless Palestinian collection,” subsequently rehomed in Britain, had in the establishment of the IoA. Once secured, the IoA goes on to take a crucial role in the colonial mission of instituting archaeology. Butler explores both the idea, and the operational logistics, of “rehoming.” The author begins with a detailed critical reading of Wheeler's address in which the act of “rehoming” and the “Palestinian collection” as critical lenses are used to trace both Petrie's patriarchal persona as the “Father of Palestinian Archaeology” and also new “beginnings” (as Edward Said proposed) and new possibilities for “decolonizing” the collection. The article later places the IoA's unusual beginnings in conversation with the exhibition Moving Objects – Stories of Displacement (2019) that was co-curated with asylum-seekers and refugee groups and held in University College London's Octagon Gallery. The exhibition featured items from the “Palestinian collection” engaged with by Palestinians living in refugee camps in Jordan. The author explores how these new engagements repositioned archaeological collections as a resource for contemporary Palestinians to reflect on and profile alternative experiences of “homelessness” and heritage.

Type: Article
Title: The 'Strange Beginnings' of the Institute of Archaeology – Rehoming Flinders Petrie's 'Homeless Palestinian Collection'
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.palestine-studies.org/en/node/1653290
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: archaeology, heritage, Palestine, rehoming, Flinders Petrie, Mortimer Wheeler, refugees, exhibitions, decolonizing collections
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10158553
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