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Mapping Cultural Space Across Eurasia

Auction Markets 1801-1820

One use of this pernicious type of mapping is shown here. First, this map is in a state of uncertainty as it does not define what types of objects were auctioned on the market from 1801-1820. One must resort to generalizing based on the understanding of the 19th century commodities market as an active moment defined by the pilfering of colonies for their decorative objects, monuments and temples to be brought back to collect and ‘persevered’ global history.

[West Chester University History Course Surveying 19th Century Relationship between Africa and Europe]

What I find very problematic with this map, ‘Network diagram’, is the obvious omission of where the objects traded truly come from. Their origins both begin and end in the continent of Europe as vividly expressed above. These objects are supposed to exist strictly as an extension of power. They are meant to be part of a culture, but which culture: one oriented on commodity as collectible, or  one interested in preservation?


One exemplary example is the Rosetta Stone that was found in Egypt by French troops in 1799 and has been placed out-of-situ as a central attraction in the British Musuem since the early 1800s. [Read more about the Rosetta Stone here]. 


The very question of stewardship has come into focus during the past 25 years when several international governments have begun requesting the return of their extracted relics in public collections such as the British Museum, [Returning Artifacts Home ] proclaiming the rightful ownership of the countries from which these objects originated, often underlaid with a form of nationalism through objecthood.  Yet which way does nationalism travel is a bigger question?  Like the map of ‘African diasporas to the Americas’ previously mentioned it seems to flow bidirectionally.  It stands the same ground previously established with 23andme’s genome mapping, where in order to find your collective pieces you must share your personal parts with their relational database. Categorizing or creating intricate lists is not territory unfamiliar to the object commodities market.  The market often becomes a cross-wiring of nationalism seen in the use of exporting ideas and objects to colonies.