Migrating Collections and Recollections in Europe and the Americas
294 Pages, 8.25 x 11.70 x 1.10 in
Sales Date: July 1, 2009
"When things move, things change." Starting from this deceptively simple premise, Silvia Spitta opens a fascinating window onto the profound displacements and transformations that have occurred over the six centuries since material objects and human subjects began circulating between Europe and the Americas.
This extended reflection on the dynamics of misplacement starts with the European practice of collecting objects from the Americas into Wunderkammern, literally "cabinets of wonders." Stripped of all identifying contexts, these exuberant collections, including the famous Real Gabinete de Historia Natural de Madrid, upset European certainties, forcing a reorganization of knowledge that gave rise to scientific inquiry and to the epistemological shift we call modernity. In contrast, cults such as that of the Virgin of Guadalupe arose out of the reverse migration from Europe to the Americas. The ultimate marker of mestizo identity in Mexico, the Virgin of Guadalupe is now fast crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, and miracles are increasingly being reported. Misplaced Objects then concludes with the more intimate and familial collections and recollections of Cuban and Mexican American artists and writers that are contributing to the Latinization of the United States.
Beautifully illustrated and radically interdisciplinary, Misplaced Objects clearly demonstrates that it is not the awed viewer, but rather the misplaced object itself that unsettles our certainties, allowing new meanings to emerge.
This book will make a significant contribution to more than one field. Conceptually, Spitta’s model is an innovative one—she presents fresh historical perspectives on colonial phenomena and institutions . . . while interweaving this material with contemporary institutional or cultural echoes. The result is that we not only learn more about the ‘old’ New World, but the ‘new’ New World as well. . . . The scholarship underlying this project is wide-reaching and impressive.~R. Tripp Evans, Associate Professor of American Art, Wheaton College, and author of Romancing the Maya: Mexican Antiquity in the American Imagination, 1820–1915
Misplaced Objects is an erudite, elegantly narrated, historically wide-ranging, and genuinely transdisciplinary exploration that should transform contemporary understandings of the Americas in numerous fields.~The Comparatist
- Introduction: Misplaced Objects and Subject Matters
- Part I: The Object as Specimen
- 1. Misplaced Objects from the Americas and the Emergence of the European Wunderkammern
- 2. Transatlantic Subject Matters and Big Bones: The Real Gabinete de Historia Natural de Madrid
- 3. Writing the Natural History of Our Destruction: From P. T. Barnum's National Histrionics to Contemporary, Post-Apocalyptic Wunderkammern
- Part II: Migrating Icons and Sacred Geographies in the Americas
- 4. GuadalupeNation: Disappearing Objects, National Narratives
- 5. Guadalupe's Wheels: Runaway Image, Undocumented Border Crosser, Miracle Worker
- 6. The New Mexico/New Mestizo Effect: Enchanted and Otherwise Enacted Spaces
- Part III: Found Objects and Re-Collecting Subjects
- 7. Re-Collecting the Past: Latinidad's Found Objects, Photographs, and Home Altars
- 8. Sandra Ramos and the Cuban Diaspora: La vida no cabe en una maleta
- Works Cited
The publication of Misplaced Objects was made possible by the support of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowment in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture.