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'The Things They Have Made Will Live Forever': The Estelle Hamilton-Welsh Collection in the F.S. Malan Museum, University of Fort Hare

Sean Morrow
Journal of Southern African Studies
Vol. 22, No. 2 (Jun., 1996), pp. 271-285
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2637061
Page Count: 15
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'The Things They Have Made Will Live Forever': The Estelle Hamilton-Welsh Collection in the F.S. Malan Museum, University of Fort Hare
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Abstract

Recent changes have given particular significance to portrayals of African cultures in South African museums, and to the relationship between collectors and those from whom they collect. This article examines the history of a collection of artefacts, mainly from the Eastern Cape in South Africa, gathered from the 1880s to the 1940s by Estelle Hamilton-Welsh and her mother, and now housed in the F.S. Malan Museum, University of Fort Hare. The collector used her links with authority and her economic resources to build the collection. However, to ease contact with and gather material from Africans, she also turned to advantage the social and political marginality that characterised white women...a marginality that enabled a limited transgression of accepted roles. Changing perceptions of the collection in terms of scholarly recognition and popular display are also examined. The article concludes that in a society marked by profound divisions of class, race and wealth, collecting of this type is inevitably a deeply ambiguous activity.

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