14 January 2021

Thinking With | Henrietta Lidchi & Stuart Allan | Dividing the Spoils

CONVERSATION | 14 Jan 2021 | 15:30 - 17:00 CET | Zoom online

On the occasion of Henrietta Lidchi and Stuart Allan’s edited volume Dividing the Spoils: Perspectives on Military Collections and the British Empire (2020), we take the opportunity to think alongside them, and to converse with Staci Marie Dehaney and David Whetham, in conversation with Wayne Modest, as part of our Thinking With Series

Special Q&A for students, closed session: 17.00-17.20, if you are interested in joining this closed session please email Alessandra.Benedicty@wereldculturen.nl

How can we think through the idea of taking in colonial times through military collections? How do notions of victory and surrender become encoded? How does the ethic of worthy enemies get remembered? What is the particular inflection of the military on material culture that arises from colonial wars? The recent publication of Dividing the Spoils: Perspectives on Military Collections and the British Empire (2020)  allows us not just to think through perspectives on the motivations and circumstances whereby collections were appropriated and acquired during colonial military service, but to consider the materiality and meaning of these objects, to challenge us to think about the legacies of empire. How do military collections ask us engage, in Kenan Malik’s words, in the “reworking of the relationship between history, historians and empire”? And what of  the role of material culture as a testimony of that relationship?

Image: Mughal sword presented to Colonel Sir John Macdonald by the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II, India, 1803. Sir John Macdonald was prominent in the victory of British imperial forces in the Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803-5). An inscription records the presentation of the sword to Macdonald in the aftermath of the Battle of Laswari. This gift was tactical. It was one of a number of gifts made by Shah Allam II to re-establish an alliance with the British following his neutral stance in the conflict. The sword was bequeathed to National Museums Scotland in 1944 by Macdonald’s descendants

How to join

We will host this event online.

To join via ZOOM WEBINAR, please register in advance for this webinar.

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Please note that we will only open the Q&A on Zoom. Based on time, we cannot promise to address all of the questions, but we shall do our best. 

Bio | Stuart Allan

Stuart Allan is Keeper of Scottish History & Archaeology at National Museums Scotland. His specialism is in the material and organisational culture of the British Army, and his research focusses on the Scottish military tradition in its wider cultural contexts. He is author of Commando Country (2007), and co-author of Common Cause: Commonwealth Scots and the Great War (2014), and The Thin Red Line: War, Empire and Visions of Scotland (2004). He is currently co-investigator for the Arts and Humanities Research Council project Baggage and Belonging: military collections and the British Empire, 1750-1900 (AH/P006752/1) and is co-editor with Henrietta Lidchi of Dividing the Spoils: perspectives on military collections and the British Empire (2020). 


Bio | Henrietta Lidchi

Henrietta Lidchi is the Chief Curator of the National Museum of World Cultures. Prior to working in Leiden, Lidchi worked in National Museums Scotland as Keeper of World Cultures (2005-2017), and prior to that at both the Museum of Mankind and the British Museum lastly as Deputy Keeper (2000-2002). Her main research interests currently are Native American art and material culture; dealing and trading in the American Southwest from the 1950s-1980s and museum histories of collecting and display. She is currently Honorary Professor in the School of Political and Social Science at the University of Edinburgh as well as Visiting Scholar at CARMaH at Humboldt University Berlin. From 2013 she has been working with Stuart Allan and has been awarded several grants including as Principal Investigator for the Arts and Humanities Research Council project Baggage and Belonging: military collections and the British Empire, 1750-1900 (AH/P006752/1). Between 2019-2020 she was member of the Adviescommissie Nationaal Beleidskader Koloniale Collecties.


Respondent | Staci Marie Dehaney

Former Director of Military History and Library Services and ex Captain within the Jamaica Defence Force  with responsibilities for the management of Military heritage, the Jamaican Military Museum and Library (JMML) and the Museum Newcastle Hill station. As the former Curator of the Jamaica Defence Force Museums, she was responsible for the development of exhibitions and programmes about Jamaica’s military history. In her capacity as the Military’s public liaison on military heritage matters, and the Force Curator, she sought to both encourage and facilitate new  research on Jamaican military history and its material culture.

Staci-Marie has a degree in African History and Political Science, a Masters in Heritage Studies from UWI, an MBA from FIU, Certificate in Paper Conservation from the Malaysian Archives, Oxford Cultural Leaders Alumni, Oxford University and she studied Chinese Culture and Economy at Nanchang University, China. With over seventeen (17) years in the Museums field, her experience includes, Director for the Museums of History and Ethnography (now National Museums of Jamaica), Institute of Jamaica.  Her research interests include Visual Culture with an emphasis on Colonial photography and representation of the the Empire and the Commodity culture that evolved; British Military collections with a particular interest in the collecting practices done during expansion campaigns and their subsequent interpretation within Military Museums in the contemporary and the decolonialization of collections.



Respondent | David Whetham

David Whetham is Professor of Ethics and the Military Profession in the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London. He is the Director of the King’s Centre for Military Ethics and delivers or coordinates the military ethics component of courses for around two thousand British and international officers a year at the UK’s Joint Services Command and Staff College. David supports military ethics education in many different countries and has held Visiting Fellowships at the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership, US Naval Academy Annapolis, the Centre for Defence Leadership and Ethics at the Australian Defence College in Canberra and at the University of Glasgow. He was a Mid Career Fellow at the British Academy in 2017-18 and is currently a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the University of New South Wales. In 2020 he was appointed as an Assistant Inspector-General to the Australian Defence Force to assist in the final stages of the Afghanistan Inquiry. Publications include Ethics, Law and Military Operations (Palgrave, 2010), Just Wars and Moral Victories (Brill, 2009) and with Andrea Ellner & Paul Robinson (Eds), When Soldiers Say No: Selective Conscientious Objection in the Modern Military (Ashgate: 2014). David is the Vice President of the European Chapter of the International Society for Military Ethics (Euro ISME).