Rescuing history from the nation


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This article reveals the unknown history of the collections at the Stockholm Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities (MFEA). The Museum was founded with material from Johan Gunnar Andersson's archaeological excavations in China in the 1920s and for a long time Andersson's bi-national cooperation with the Chinese state was held up as an exemplary model for international museum collecting and archaeology. However, it is now clear that Andersson used the leverage of his position as a Chinese official to pressurize local populations into excavating ancient grave fields, causing demolition of 5,000-year-old burial grounds, and that he secretly sent an unscrupulous professional collector to China in order to procure antiques for the Museum. Indeed, it was because he had the support of the Chinese state that he was in a position to cause such extensive damage, often against the will of local Tibetan and Muslim communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-123
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the History of Collections
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Conservation
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Museology


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