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Keywords:

  • exhibition;
  • design;
  • hidden histories;
  • exploration;
  • Royal Geographical Society;
  • intermediaries

Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Site and situation: making collections visible
  5. Form and content: looking, naming and situating
  6. Design strategies: role-reversal, juxtaposition and re-scaling
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References

This paper addresses the potential of public exhibitions to challenge long taken-for-granted assumptions about the history of exploration and geography. The Hidden Histories of Exploration exhibition, originally held in 2009, was based on historical research in the Royal Geographical Society’s extensive collections, including manuscripts, books, maps and atlases, artefacts, artworks, photography and film. The exhibition was designed to reveal the agency of indigenous peoples and intermediaries in the history of exploration, as reflected especially in the recruitment of guides, interpreters, porters and pilots. By highlighting and to some extent celebrating the role of such individuals, it sought to prompt questions about what is made visible and what is obscured in standard narratives of exploration, especially when seen from a metropolitan perspective. However, the relationship between research and exhibition was by no means one-way, as is implied by the language of ‘dissemination’ and ‘output’: the process of bringing the exhibition into being raised questions about the structure of the archives on which the exhibition depended, as well as prompting further reflection on the biographical mode in which the work of recovery of ‘hidden histories’ is often conceived in the heritage sector. Particular attention is devoted to the impact of collaboration with designers on the presentation and interpretation of materials in the exhibition. The paper focuses on three design strategies reflected in the exhibition space: ‘role reversal’ (celebrating the role of intermediaries and presenting the explorers as dependent); ‘juxtaposition’ (emphasising the importance of partnership and the co-production of geographical knowledge); and ‘re-scaling’ (transforming anonymous archival fragments into documents of a truly human history).


Introduction

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Site and situation: making collections visible
  5. Form and content: looking, naming and situating
  6. Design strategies: role-reversal, juxtaposition and re-scaling
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References

Geographers’ interest in the visual realm raises questions about our capacity not merely to represent the world as we find it, but also to intervene in it. That means taking seriously the idea that in our professional and pedagogic practice as geographers, we are already engaged in the production of imaginative geographies. The making of geographical knowledge, from the classical age of exploration to the world of digital media, has always involved the mobilisation of images. In some contexts, these practices are routine: in teaching or research, for example, the presentation has long been established as a specific mode of performance, conjoining particular kinds of visual technology with the communication of authoritative truths according to the conventions of the academy (Rose 2003). In other contexts, however, visuality presents different possibilities and challenges to geographers, especially where other sorts of institution and other audiences are involved. In this respect, it is notable that in recent years geographers have become increasingly involved in creative collaborations with visual artists and creative designers for whom the idea of a genuinely imaginative geography offers the potential for intervention as well as critique (Driver et al. 2002; Hawkins 2010).

In this paper, I am concerned with the potential of a public exhibition to challenge long taken-for-granted assumptions about the history of exploration and geography. In Autumn 2009, the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (RGS-IBG) in London hosted an exhibition on the subject of Hidden Histories of Exploration, part of a collaborative research project focused on their extensive historical collections.1 The exhibition was designed to question the dominant narrative in the popular history of exploration, reproduced in generation after generation of explorer biographies, which privileges the actions of heroic individuals in extraordinary circumstances. This is a history that tends to be dominated by the actions of European and American men, venturing forth on incredible journeys, either surviving against the odds or being martyred in the process: Dr Livingstone, I presume? (Pettit 2007). To a large extent, especially but by no means solely within the UK, the public culture of exploration continues to project this narrative as essentially a moral drama, with the individual explorer as the principal character, usually the hero, more rarely the villain (Driver 2005).

Such has been the dominant view of explorers and exploration, and it has proved remarkably enduring. For all the weight of decades of learned scholarship and postcolonial critique, we still have much to learn about the culture, practices and institutions that made geographical exploration possible, both in the metropolis and in the field (for recent overviews, see Kennedy 2007; Naylor and Ryan 2010; more specialist studies include Cavell 2008; Dritsas 2010; Safier 2008). One of the objectives of the Hidden Histories of Exploration exhibition was to portray the business of exploration as fundamentally a collective experience of work, involving many different people in many different kinds of relationship. It was designed to bring into focus the contributions of a large number of people who made exploration possible but were rarely centre stage – including the carriers, cooks, soldiers, porters, guides and interpreters recruited and paid off en route. For far too long, their histories had been hidden from view. It was time to bring them into the limelight.

At one level, the exhibition provided an opportunity to present some of the outcomes of research into the collections of the RGS-IBG undertaken over a long period, and most recently as part of a funded research project (Driver and Jones 2009; Jones 2010). However, in the course of planning the exhibition, it became clear that the relationship between research and display was by no means all one way, as the familiar language of ‘dissemination’ and ‘outputs’ tends to suggest. The process of bringing the exhibition into being – conceptually, discursively and practically – also helped to re-shape research questions and perspectives in ways that were productive of new insights about the subject of the research, and the process of public engagement. This was partly a function of the specific institutional and funding arrangements supporting the production of the exhibition under the Arts and Humanities Research Council's (AHRC’s) Museums, Galleries, Archives & Libraries Scheme, notably the requirement for a Principal Investigator to oversee the delivery of the project (as opposed to the more common curatorial model through which many academics become involved in exhibition work, in which the guest curator has a closely defined intellectual input into a project managed by others). The application of this framework to the production of an exhibition rather than a piece of conventional research output in journal or book form brought about a closer (and arguably more productive) relationship between scholarly inquiry and the presentation of the work in three-dimensional form. More generally, the process of producing the exhibition, including collaboration with skilled designers and engagement with a variety of other communities, prompted further reflection on the subject of the research on the part of the researchers themselves.

In this paper, I consider the relationship between narrative and image in the space of the exhibition, with a particular emphasis on the ways in which the process of design helped to shape the exhibition as a visual experience. The first section of the paper presents an account of the institutional setting of the exhibition, explaining its wider significance in the context of the history of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and the methodological challenge of using old collections to tell new stories. The second section outlines the form and content of the exhibition, using new research in the collections (notably from the 1922 Everest expedition) to explain how the displays highlighted the agency of indigenous peoples and intermediaries in the business of exploration. By highlighting, and to an extent celebrating, the role of intermediaries such as guides, interpreters, porters and pilots, the exhibition prompted questions about what was made visible and what was obscured in standard narratives of exploration, especially when seen from a British perspective; specifically, whose labours come to be recognised as indispensable to the process of exploration and whose are marginalised? In posing this question, the model of ‘hidden histories’, now a familiar part of the discourse of public engagement in the heritage sector, held considerable promise: yet it also raised further questions about the structure and interpretation of the archives on which the exhibition depended, as well as prompting further reflection on the biographical mode in which the work of recovery is usually conceived, including the possibility of an explicitly spatial perspective on the networks and infrastructure of exploration.

Geographers know well that space, like language, is not a neutral surface over which knowledge travels or an empty container into which we can pour our learning: instead it re-shapes that knowledge in significant ways (Livingstone 2003; Meusburger et al. 2010; Naylor 2005). In the context of recent interest amongst geographers in the practice of exhibition-making and in questions of ‘impact’ within higher education more generally, this point has a particular salience. It is clear from many historical and contemporary studies of museum and gallery displays that the knowledge presented within an exhibition is necessarily shaped and indeed potentially transformed by its spatial form and context (see, for example, Hooper-Greenhill 2000; Karp and Lavine 1991; Moser 2010). Within the complex process of planning and constructing an exhibition, the role of design itself deserves more specific attention. In the third and most substantial section of this paper I therefore focus in particular on the relationship between the ethos of the Hidden Histories exhibition and the design strategies involved in its realisation, referred to here as ‘role reversal’, ‘juxtaposition’ and ‘re-scaling’. It should be emphasised that these strategies were not articulated explicitly by the researchers themselves at the outset: rather, they emerged through a lengthy process of discussion and consultation involving a large number of people involved in creating the exhibition, most notably the designers themselves.

Site and situation: making collections visible

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Site and situation: making collections visible
  5. Form and content: looking, naming and situating
  6. Design strategies: role-reversal, juxtaposition and re-scaling
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References

There was nothing inevitable about the choice of the RGS-IBG as both the focus of the research and the site of the exhibition. Questions about the role of indigenous people and intermediaries in the history of exploration may be approached in a variety of ways depending on the particular objectives of the research, including for example oral history, archival research or anthropological fieldwork conducted in ‘frontier’ regions. To give one example, anthropologists and curators of major ethnographic collections have shown that the use of historical photographic images in collaborative research with First Nations communities, combining the methods of photo-elicitation with the ethics of (digital) repatriation, has considerable potential in the context of field-based research in former colonial territories (Binney and Chaplin 1991; Peers and Brown 2009; Savard 2010). The remit of the Hidden Histories exhibition project was more specifically focused on the potential of archival investigation within metropolitan (i.e. European or North American) collections to yield evidence that might challenge the ‘heroic’ view of exploration. In methodological terms, this was a genuine challenge, but it was not one unfamiliar to researchers working on parallel themes in the history of metropolitan science and empire. Indeed, postcolonial research by imperial historians is almost by definition concerned with the extent to which such archives, established during the colonial era, can be read ‘against the grain’ and used for purposes quite different from those envisaged by those who established them (Burton 2011; Pandey 2000). In these terms, the RGS-IBG was a good choice not least because of the extraordinary depth and range of its collections, many of them newly accessible in digital form. The history of these collections is itself a topic worthy of further research. The idea of acquiring, storing and circulating geographical information was one of the main rationales for the foundation of the Society in 1830 (Driver 2001). Today, the Society’s collections are said to contain more than two million individual items, including books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, art-works, artefacts and film, reflecting the wide geographical extent of British interest across the world but also extending well beyond the historical limits of the British Empire.

The idea of mounting an exhibition in a space traditionally associated with the ‘heroic’ view of exploration evidently required the active support of the Society itself, in collaborating in the preparation of the initial research proposal, in contributing to the development of the concept and in enabling the exhibition in its physical and online forms to reach as wide an audience as possible. The Society’s head of research, Dr Catherine Souch, was the key point of contact in the planning for the exhibition, though many members of the professional staff, notably those with responsibility for collections, education, outreach and public relations, were also involved.2 The Society has also long been committed to what is now called public engagement, though the nature of the public that has been engaged, and the forms this has taken, have changed significantly in recent years (Driver and Jones 2009, 6–7). After the Second World War, the Society embarked on an ambitious, if now largely forgotten, programme of public activities, including regular exhibitions,3 Christmas lectures and geographical film shows. In recent years, the Society’s collections have played an important role in more far-reaching outreach and educational initiatives, notably the ‘Crossing Continents’ exhibitions programme, led by Vandana Patel and Steve Brace, designed to reach new ‘publics’ amongst Britain’s black and ethnic minority communities (Royal Geographical Society with IBG 2009).4 This was part of a larger-scale initiative – the ‘Unlocking the archives’ project supported by the UK’s Heritage Lottery Fund – involving the provision of new facilities for storage, cataloguing, preservation and visitor access to the collections at the home of the RGS-IBG, including a new display space (the Pavilion) on Exhibition Road which opened in 2004. Although the idea of a research-oriented exhibition at the Society was new, the shift of emphasis in its collections strategy – as developed in recent years by Alasdair Macleod, head of enterprise and resources – provided an essential precondition for this project.

The origins and ethos of the Hidden Histories exhibition, especially its aim to highlight the potential of the RGS-IBG collections as resource for a variety of different kinds of research, were reflected in its physical manifestation across two distinct spaces: the Society’s pavilion gallery at street level (where most of the panels and copy prints were on show, along with some video and audio material) and the Foyle Reading Room at basement level (where original materials including oil paintings, books, sketches and artefacts were on display). While this arrangement had a pragmatic rationale, notably given the conservation requirements of some of the objects on show, it also helped to embed the links between exhibition and research in the very organisation of the display. In principle, visitors were encouraged to move from the story to the sources: in crossing the threshold of a formerly inaccessible research facility they were invited to become active participants in the making of new knowledge rather than simply its passive spectators. In this respect, the spatial arrangement of the exhibition was reinforced by a programme of associated events, from ‘hands on’ showcases to community engagement workshops, designed to promote the use of the collections. RGS-IBG monitoring data indicated that the exhibition resulted in significantly increased use of the Society’s research facilities, fulfilling one of its strategic objectives in supporting the exhibition.

Form and content: looking, naming and situating

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Site and situation: making collections visible
  5. Form and content: looking, naming and situating
  6. Design strategies: role-reversal, juxtaposition and re-scaling
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References

The Hidden Histories of Exploration exhibition set out to encourage a more inclusive history of exploration, in which the contributions of a wider range of people were recognised and valued than has traditionally been the case. European explorers in many different parts of the world relied heavily on the physical labour of porters, pilots, guides and translators, as well as various forms of indigenous knowledge, including but not confined to oral testimony (Burnett 2002; Camerini 1996; Chrétien 2005; Fogel-Chance 2002; Hansen 1999; Raffles 2002; Raj 2006; Simpson 1975; Wisnicki 2008). Yet in writing for a metropolitan audience, explorers often failed to acknowledge the extent of their dependence on others in print: all too often indigenous agency was lost in translation. By looking carefully at the various different forms of evidence across the collections, the aim was to recover some aspects of these hidden histories.

The exhibition was arranged into three thematic sections: ‘The work of exploration’ (highlighting the dependence of European explorers on local support, local knowledge and key intermediaries including guides and interpreters); ‘Images of exploration and encounter’ (presenting aspects of a diverse visual archive of exploration and the presence of indigenous peoples within it); and ‘Recognition and responsibility’ (reflecting on the extent to which the role of locals and intermediaries was recognised by the Royal Geographical Society during the nineteenth century). Within each section, materials were arranged in order to make more visible the role of indigenous people and intermediaries in the history of exploration, using various different kinds of materials from the collections, including manuscript, print, artefact, map, photograph, artwork and film. The idea of ‘bringing into visibility’ was evidently enriched, and complicated, by the prominent role of visual technologies – including the sketchbook, the atlas, the lantern slide and the documentary film – in the history of exploration. The photographic collections of scholarly societies, for example, have themselves been the subject of significant attention in the histories of geography and anthropology (Edwards 1994; Loiseaux 2006; Ryan 1997). The exhibition’s large central section devoted to images of exploration was thus intended to encourage reflection on the particular history of the various modes of visualisation evident in the Society’s collections: images of image-making were especially prominent, accompanied by contextual material that emphasised the specific conditions under which images were made (Driver and Jones 2009, 25–41). Mixing the spectacular with the mundane, the exhibition as a whole was intended to inspire curiosity, a desire not just to know more about the RGS-IBG collections, but to know more about the conditions under which some things in the collections were more visible than others.

This was partly a matter of looking at familiar material with fresh eyes. Perhaps the single most telling example used in the exhibition was provided by an iconic portrait of the cameraman John Noel, member of the 1922 and 1924 Everest expeditions, pictured in the act of filming on the Chang La (which the British then called the North Col) at around 23 000 feet (Plate 1). Noel occupies an important place in the historiography of mountaineering, not so much for his achievements as a climber than for his enthusiastic advocacy of the uses of film in the course of adventurous exploration. The Everest expeditions of the period owed much to the culture and technology of exploration in extreme environments as the many parallels between the logistics of polar and mountain expeditions suggest. As contemporary reports in the journal of the Royal Geographical Society indicate (Anon 1923), the technical challenges of film-making in such environments and the possibilities of using film as a means of attracting public support were common concerns (Martins 2007). Noel’s photographs and films brought Everest expeditions to life, and continue to do so. The Hidden Histories exhibition thus included clips from his 1922 film alongside documentary evidence concerning the role of Sherpas on the expedition.

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Plate 1. ‘Captain Noel and kinematograph camera with large telephoto lens established on the Chang La [North Col] at 23,000 feet’, unknown photographer, 1922. (Note the partially-visible Sherpa keeping camera and tripod steady.) Source: RGS-IBG Collections

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In this photograph, the focus is on Noel himself, the apparently nonchalant operator of a specially adapted Newman Sinclair camera, with telephoto lens, at what was then a record altitude. The photograph was widely reproduced: it appeared for example in the programme for the 1922 expedition film (Mount Everest Committee 1922) and in a fund-raising exhibition of Everest photographs and paintings held at the Alpine Club in the spring of 1923, and continues to be produced as an iconic portrait, and often attributed to Noel himself (Noel 2003, 52). This aspect of the after-life of the image is itself highly significant: its multiple reproductions and the purposes to which they are put remind us that, far from being simply an unmediated record of experience, the visual archive is often a site for the accumulation of value. In the context of the Hidden Histories exhibition, such a critique would have been far less effective had it not been connected directly with the image itself. The viewer was therefore encouraged, first, to look more closely at the picture: behind the camera, literally in the shadows, is a partially visible Sherpa steadying the tripod, one of no less than eight men who were deputed to carry all the equipment up and down the mountain. The idea of ‘partial visibility’ was here used to tell a larger story: and in this case it could be amplified by asking the viewer to consider how Noel actually obtained the photograph of himself apparently in the act of filming. With no sign of any remotely activated device by which he himself could have taken the picture (a theoretical possibility), further research in the Everest archive at the RGS-IBG was required: and evidence was eventually found, in the form of the Catalogue to the Alpine Club exhibition (Mount Everest Committee 1923), to support the claim that the photograph was almost certainly taken by one of the Sherpas at Noel’s behest. For, of all the exhibits, this one was unattributed: every one of the others is recorded as having been the work of Noel or his British colleagues. In this case, an archival absence spoke volumes.

Identifying a presence is an important step: going further than this and naming individuals depends to a large extent on the survival of evidence, which is often difficult to locate or is suggestive rather than definitive, as the above example shows. In the case of the early Everest expeditions, the names of individual Sherpas were almost invisible in the official records, except for rare receipt books showing payments to their families, including their wives’ thumb-prints as signatures (an example of which was included in the exhibition). Furthermore, the seven porters who died in 1922, killed by an avalanche on the North Col in a third attempt to reach the summit led by George Mallory (who survived on this occasion), were not named or even mentioned in the film of the expedition, though Noel photographed the Sherpas half an hour before the accident and reportedly filmed the track of the avalanche.5 There are various accounts of the accident in the RGS-IBG collections, including two by Mallory, who blamed himself for an error of judgement (a conclusion he was not alone in reaching).6 But amongst the vast archive of paperwork there is nothing to tell us about the Sherpas’ view of the event, apart from a brief document noting compensation to their families: as far as I know, this is the only documentary evidence of their identities that survives. Here they are named as Thankay Sherpa, Sangay Sherpa, Temba Sherpa, Lhakpa Sherpa, Pasang Namgya Sherpa, Norbu Bhotia and Pema Sherpa, the report also indicating that six were ethnic Sherpa and one ‘Bhotia’ (a loose term that the British authorities used to cover a variety of ethnically Tibetan hill peoples).7 Their dependants were said to be living in Darjeeling, Nepal and Tibet. While the achievements of the British climbers were widely celebrated after their return to England, the deaths of the Sherpas were soon forgotten as far as public memory in Britain was concerned, in striking contrast to the lasting obsession with Mallory’s own fate in 1924. Mallory’s death on Everest continues to inspire fascination within Britain and beyond, as witnessed in Jeffrey Archer’s pseudo-documentary novel, Paths of glory (2009), and the recent spectacular film The wildest dream (2010), both of which drew directly on materials in the Everest collections at the RGS-IBG. In this context, the possibility of telling other stories through these collections is yet to be widely recognised, let alone realised. An exhibition like Hidden Histories swims against a powerful tide.

As the above example indicates, research for the exhibition involved the identification of individuals whose labours had been hidden or airbrushed from history, suggesting the possibility (cheerfully exploited in the exhibition publicity) of a kind of alternative ‘roll of honour’ in the annals of exploration. But the task of naming and individualising those I have referred to above as ‘partially visible’ was itself by no means simple, even where, as in the case of the larger-scale expeditions in Asia or Africa, evidence of reliance on local labour was plentiful. The vast majority of assistants, servants or employees working within such expeditions are unidentified in most published narratives or the archives that survive. Moreover, those that are named are often identified on the basis of convenience or misinterpretation by their employers, roles frequently mistaken for names or family names for first names. There are also many examples of the use of adopted or conferred names, as for example in the case of Sidi Mubarak Bombay, the celebrated leader of many nineteenth-century expeditions in East Africa, whose names reflected his experience as a child slave taken by his Arab captor to India (Simpson 1975). Consideration of these conventions and practices of naming is itself an important step in the process of unsettling conventional accounts of exploration, in which ‘locals’ are so often merely means to an end: attempting to do more, by breathing biographical life into the often fragmentary surviving evidence is a real challenge. It requires painstaking research, often against the grain of the archive, to trace the barest pattern of a life.

Two further examples of materials used in the exhibition, both used to present aspects of the history of African exploration, will help to develop this point further. The first is a delicate watercolour sketch by Catherine Frere, daughter of British colonial governor Sir Henry Bartle Frere, made in South Africa in 1877 (Plate 2). This depicts some of the female members of Henry Morton Stanley’s party that had stopped at the Cape on their return voyage from Angola to Zanzibar after crossing Africa from east to west in a marathon 3-year expedition. The women were from Zanzibar and were returning there to be paid off, like the men who travelled with them, as was customary at the conclusion of a major expedition. Interestingly, their images also appeared, in photolithograph form, in Stanley’s published account (Stanley 1878, 371). But in this unique sketch from the RGS-IBG archives, Catherine Frere records their Swahili names, individually, carefully numbering each of the sitters: and, with a youthful flourish, she signs her own initials, rendered as notes on a musical stave. It is a remarkable document that not only reminds the viewer that large numbers of women were employed by major expeditions of the sort led by Stanley or Speke across Africa, as they were also involved in long-distance trade within Africa (Rockel 2000), but also suggests the possibility, at least, of a more sympathetic view of their individuality, imagined from the perspective of the daughter of a colonial administrator and philanthropist. With further research on such images – especially in combination with photographic, oral historical, textual and other kinds of evidence – it may be possible to say more about the experience of these women.

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Plate 2. ‘Some of the Zanzibar and other natives of Mr H. M. Stanley’s party’, Catherine Frere, 1877, watercolour. (The women's names are recorded beneath.) Source: RGS-IBG Collections

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In other cases, further research enabled the identification of individuals represented generically or inaccurately in contemporary art-works. An oil painting by Henry Wyndham Phillips, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1864 and entitled ‘Captain Speke and Captain Grant with Timbo, a young native from the country of the upper Nile’, has been the subject of some previous discussion amongst art historians (in the context of visual representations of race) and historians of exploration (in the context of debates over the use of indigenous oral testimony).8 The African figure in the background of the painting is included by the artist as a source of valuable evidence, in principle as useful to geographical science as the artefacts and maps in the foreground. Although he is named (or rather mis-named) in the title, his role in the painting is essentially passive and inert: indeed, he is essentially a prop. In the course of research for the exhibition, however, a new story emerged concerning the identity of the African (Driver and Jones 2009, 17–18). It is our hypothesis that the figure depicted by the artist was modelled on George Francis Tembo, a former slave brought to England by Colonel Christopher Rigby, British Consul at Zanzibar between 1858 and 1861, who became a friend of James Grant. Baptised, re-named and effectively adopted by Rigby, Tembo seems to have been born in what is now Tanzania (Russell 1935, 282).9 It is possible that he was one of the ‘emancipated slave boys’ photographed with the chief porter of the British consulate in Zanzibar by Grant in August or September 1860, prior to his departure with Speke for the African mainland. The stereoscopic photograph, which survives in the RGS-IBG collections, is one of the earliest uses of photography in sub-Saharan Africa beyond the Cape (Plate 3).

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Plate 3. ‘Head Janissary of the British Consulate, Zanzibar with two emancipated slave boys’, J. A. Grant, 1860, stereoscopic photograph Source: RGS-IBG Collections

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The link between Tembo and the British explorers is firmly established by his appearance in London, again with another African boy, at large public meetings called to celebrate the return of Grant and Speke from their famous expedition in search of the Nile sources in 1863. An image of the Royal Geographical Society meeting held at Burlington House, from the Illustrated London News, has often been reproduced, including in my own work (Driver 2001, 80), though the boys’ presence in the picture, alongside the geographical celebrities of the day, has hitherto passed without comment. At the time, however, the boys had their own share of celebrity: The Times for example reported that ‘The meeting did not break up until nearly 12 o’clock, every one being anxious to shake hands with the travellers and their black companions’.10 Fine engraved portraits appeared in the Illustrated London News over the caption ‘Discovery of the source of the Nile: negro boys of central Africa’, where they were posed in the manner of Grant and Speke themselves (Plate 4). In press reports, the boys played the role of silent witnesses to Speke’s sensational claims to have located the source of the Nile: present but spoken for, or speaking through their bodies like exhibits at contemporary ethnological exhibitions (Driver 2001, 148–50). There is no convincing evidence, however, that either actually travelled with Speke and Grant on their expedition. Some years later, having remained in Rigby’s family within England, Tembo returned to Zanzibar and subsequently worked as an assistant at the British consulate. Ironically, in 1893, he finally undertook the role for which he had modelled 30 years earlier, when he was employed as an interpreter on a large-scale British mission from Zanzibar to Uganda, an expedition that laid the ground for the formation of a British protectorate there in 1894 (Portal 1894, 255; Russell 1935, 283). In this respect, far from describing reality, Wyndham Phillips’ portrait actually anticipated it.

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Plate 4. ‘Discovery of the source of the Nile: negro boys of central Africa’ Source: Illustrated London News, 4 July 1863

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Searches like these for fragmentary details of the lives of guides, informants and interpreters that survive in historical collections not only face challenges of evidence: they also raise wider questions about the biographical mode in which much of this kind of ‘salvage’ work is done within the heritage sector. For in seeking to excavate and celebrate the ‘hidden’ histories of the lives of individuals in the name of an explicitly revisionist history, we risk replacing one kind of hero-myth with another. In the case of exploration, for example, the figure of the ‘heroic indigene’ has a longer history than might be imagined. Indeed, in some circumstances, certain kinds of local agency were not only recognised but celebrated and indeed mythologised during the age of empire itself. The story of the ‘pandit’ Nain Singh – an individual whose achievements were not only recognised but celebrated and indeed mythologised – is one such example, and the subject of new research in recent years (Jones 2010, 58–91; Raj 2006). Nain Singh was famously awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society for his contributions to the mapping of Tibet, Ladakh and Central Asia in 1877, and his name has loomed large in the Society’s recent efforts to promote a more inclusive history of geography (Driver and Jones 2009, 43–6). Yet a fully historical perspective on his celebrity requires close attention to the terms on which his exceptional contributions were recognised during the nineteenth century as well as in our own time. Almost literally a subaltern in the service of the British, Nain Singh was represented in the halls of metropolitan science – his portrait can still be seen on the walls of the RGS-IBG today – but essentially he was recognised as a faithful servant of his employers in the Survey of India.

The case of Nain Singh prompts further reflection on some of the key assumptions behind the idea of ‘hidden histories’ itself. In the course of selecting suitable case-studies for the exhibition, it became clear that certain kinds of non-European agency, such as those of the ‘pandits’, were recognised, even in the nineteenth century: and moreover that the knowledge of many of the identifiable guides, interpreters and field assistants encountered in the RGS-IBG collections in many different contexts, from the Arctic to Amazonia, could hardly be characterised as ‘local’ or ‘indigenous’ in any straightforward sense. Nain Singh, for example, originated in the Kumaon Himalaya in Northern India and was clearly not ‘indigenous’ to the vast territory in Tibet through which he travelled, often incognito, covertly collecting the geographical information so precious to the British authorities; and his experience in working for successive European travellers in the trans-Himalayan region, beginning with his employment by the Schlagintweit brothers in the 1850s (Finkelstein 2000), suggests that his personal knowledge was far from merely ‘local’. Moreover, seen in the broader context of late-Victorian ideas about race and culture, the presentation of locally created knowledge as ‘indigenous’ or ‘native’ could be considered from a postcolonial perspective as a deeply colonial move. After all, at the same time as they were airbrushing the role of non-Europeans out of their narratives, colonial travellers were also constructing visions of indigeneity and of local knowledge designed, in a sense, to keep the others in their place.

In this context, the figure of the intermediary, or the ‘go-between’ as discussed in recent literature on the history of science and empire (Metcalf 2005; Schaffer et al. 2009), offered a way of approaching the role of non-European guides, pilots, interpreters and proxy-explorers such as the pandits in the history of exploration that was not so obviously reliant on colonial or neo-colonial stereotypes. While it may not challenge the biographical mode in which the history of exploration is usually written, such a perspective does prompt questions about the role of such individuals within larger economic, social and political networks. It also draws our attention to exploration as involving a process of exchange of resources: often unequal exchange, to be sure, but still a set of relationships in which the agency was not all on one side. Portraying geographical exploration as a collective project of work also invites greater recognition of the spatial infrastructure and logistics of expedition-making – notably, the significance of ports of call and supply routes, sites of recruitment and pay-off. To highlight the significance of such networks and practices encourages a shift of perspective away from the most celebrated scenes in the history of exploration. The single most important site in the British exploration of East Africa after 1850, for example, was surely not the source of the Nile, but the island of Zanzibar, a key node in the Indian Ocean trading system and a recruiting station for men and women working as porters on the major African expeditions of Speke, Stanley and others (Prestholdt 2008; Simpson 1975). A similar point could be made about the relationship between the Everest expeditions of the interwar period and the hill settlement of Darjeeling where the British recruited their Sherpas (Ortner 1999). At these sites were crystallised sets of historical and geographical relationships involving regional and interregional employment practices, trading networks, political histories, family structures, large-scale migrations and religious change. It is by considering what is happening at these sites – the bases from which expeditions were planned – that a richer and more inclusive history of exploration can emerge.

Design strategies: role-reversal, juxtaposition and re-scaling

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Site and situation: making collections visible
  5. Form and content: looking, naming and situating
  6. Design strategies: role-reversal, juxtaposition and re-scaling
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References

As with any large-scale exhibition, the process of designing the Hidden Histories exhibition required an extended series of discussions involving many people, from the initial formulation of the brief, through the tendering stage to the process of drafting and re-drafting based on feedback and commentary both within the project team and in consultation with panels of community representatives and external experts from the heritage sector and the academy. In this context, the intellectual challenges posed at the outset had to be translated into the language of design – format, scale, colour, proportion and arrangement. It is important in this context to emphasise the iterative nature of the design process, with successive drafts being subject to scrutiny and discussion over an extended period of time, and amongst a wider variety of constituencies than is conventional in the case of academic publication, for example. These included consultative groups convened by a specialist consultant, Cliff Pereira, and involved members from a variety of ethnic communities, notably but not exclusively from within South Asia, whose perspectives were included by means of audio clips within the space of the exhibition and on the accompanying website.11 As well as practical questions such as the accessibility of font sizes, the height of the panels or the location of the video screen, these discussions engaged in various registers with the core ideas of the project, less as static ‘givens’ dictating the form of the display, than as dynamic ideas subject to revision in the course of discussion. The various parties – including the designers, the exhibition team at the RGS-IBG, the head of research, the researchers, heritage experts and community consultants – all brought particular skills and experience to this process, and the eventual result reflected inputs from them all. In what follows, I shall identify three core principles that are discernible in the final format of the exhibition. It is important to emphasise that these were not articulated in these terms at the outset: rather, they emerged through discussion and reflection as the exhibition planning process developed, and indeed their full significance only became clear once the exhibition was open to public view.

The first serious discussion of design principles took place at the tendering stage, when four design teams responded to the brief (a summary of the project based on the initial proposal) with ideas, images and models. The team eventually awarded the brief, Sally Stiff and Joe Madeira of the Old Sweetshop design consultancy, presented a series of visually appealing designs for exhibition panels, publicity and publications based on a single image from the RGS-IBG collections – Thomas Baines’ oil painting of ‘A Malay native from Batavia at Coepang’– exploiting the colours in the painting to create an attractive palette for the design (Plate 5). In describing his approach, Joe Madeira referred to this portrait as the ‘hero image’, a term taken from the branding and marketing literature to refer to the focal point of a design, especially in the web environment, usually a strong image that reinforces the brand message. In the context of the Hidden Histories exhibition, the term clearly had added resonance: its purpose was now to celebrate the achievements of individuals whose labours had been hidden from history. Ironically, at this point, the identity of the ‘Malay native’ was not actually known. It was only later, in the course of research on the Baines diaries, that Lowri Jones was able to identify the sitter for Baines’ portrait as Mohammed Jen Jamain, a former djakse or local magistrate.12 The crucial link was made by triangulating between the diary, the portrait and a watercolour sketch of the same individual, held in the RGS-IBG collections (Driver and Jones 2009, 33; Jones 2010, 126–8).

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Plate 5. ‘A Malay native from Batavia at Coepang’, Thomas Baines, 1856, oil on canvas Source: RGS-IBG Collections

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In seeking to present a sympathetic and in some respects ‘heroic’ view of local informants, guides, interpreters and other go-betweens, the design team were encouraged to deploy a strategy of role reversal. The initial brief thus put the emphasis on the vulnerability of European explorers, reliant upon local knowledge and guidance for their survival in unfamiliar environments. Seen in this perspective, the exhibition suggested that the true heroes of exploration – those to whom the real credit should be given – had for too long remained in the shadows. The familiar roll-call of heroic British explorers – Cook and Burton, Livingstone and Scott – would now give way to an alternative pantheon including figures such as Sidi Mubarak Bombay and Nain Singh, whose contributions to exploration are increasingly recognised even in popular histories (Hanbury-Tenison 2010, 87–92; Hugon 1993, 122–3), and less well-known figures, such as the Amerindian guide Pedro Caripoco who travelled in Amazonia with Jean Chaffanjon in 1886 and again with Alexander Hamilton Rice in 1919–20 (Martins 2012) or the Tibetan interpreter Karma Paul, who worked for every British expedition to Everest between 1922 and 1938 (Driver and Jones 2009, 41). The acts of naming and picturing these remarkable individuals and to some extent celebrating their achievements were strategic decisions in this context. In this show, it was the agency of the headman, the indigenous surveyor, the guide and the interpreter that took centre stage.

While there was undeniably an element of celebration at work in this exhibition, wilfully accentuated by the designers’ use of attractive colours and banners, it was also necessary to move beyond the heroic mode. In the first section of the exhibition, headed ‘The work of Exploration’, a panel on the dependence of European explorers was thus followed by another entitled ‘Uneasy Partnerships’, a portmanteau phrase intended to capture the fraught relationships between European explorers and those knowledgeable intermediaries on whom they relied. Some of these individuals – especially collectors, translators and guides – acquired far more experience of exploration than even the most experienced European explorers could attain. A very few, like Nain Singh as we have seen, were celebrities in their own lifetime. Others, like Juan Tepano – who worked with Katherine Routledge in archaeological excavations on the Pacific island of Rapa Nui during the First World War, ensuring her access to elders in the community (Tilburg 2003) – were virtually airbrushed from the accounts subsequently published in journals and books by the leaders of the expeditions. In order to present such relationships as ‘partnerships’, we therefore relied on a second strategy of juxtaposition, the designer creating panels in which pairs of images were placed alongside one another. Here there was a small image of Alfred Russel Wallace pictured alongside a larger portrait of Ali, his field assistant who served according to one historian as his ‘eyes, ears and hands’ during his researches in the Malay archipelago (Camerini 1996, 56). Here too a portrait of Katherine Routledge and an (unnamed) field assistant on Rapa Nui, each on either end of a measuring tape (Plate 6). And, turning to a very different moment, here was an iconic image of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on Mount Everest in 1953 (Plate 7). By this time, colonial attitudes were being increasingly challenged, both by the Sherpas themselves and by some European climbers: from being coolies or porters, Sherpas were increasingly claiming the right to be treated as climbing partners (Hansen 2000). Superimposed on the portrait of Tenzing on the summit shown in the exhibition was text extracted from his famous account of the final moments of the 1953 ascent, in which he gently disputed Hillary’s claim to precedence:

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Plate 6. ‘Strong foundations of canoe-shaped house’, Katherine Routledge with field assistant, unknown photographer, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) Source: RGS-IBG Collections

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Plate 7. ‘Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary drink a celebratory cup of tea at Camp IV in the Western Cwm after their successful ascent of Mount Everest’, George Band, 30 May 1953 Source: RGS-IBG Collections

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All the way up and down we helped, and were helped, by each other – and that was the way it should be. But we were not leader and led. We were partners. (Norgay 1955, 265–6)

The Everest expedition collection at the RGS-IBG, including materials from expeditions from the 1920s up to the 1950s, is a substantial and precious resource. In seeking to project a different version of the Everest story, which made the vital contributions of interpreters, climbers and porters more visible, a third design strategy – that of re-scaling– proved particularly effective. The wall of the RGS-IBG pavilion, immediately above the Everest section of the exhibition, was covered from top to bottom with a greatly enlarged image of a sheet of passport-style photographs from the archives of the 1936 Everest expedition, so that each individual portrait was approximately life-size. At first sight, in their archival box, these photographic portraits had appeared to belong to a genre of administrative and anthropometric photography deployed by the British in India since the 1860s (Falconer 1984), the numbering and arrangement of each print suggesting, to my eyes at least, principles of surveillance and regimentation (Plate 8). But this was certainly not the whole story. Alongside the Sherpa portraits, taken at the moment of their recruitment at the Planter’s Club in Darjeeling, were those of some of the British members of the expedition, as well as images of the recruitment scene itself. Furthermore, the projection of these portraits onto the wall transformed an archival fragment into something far more personal and indeed more ambivalent (Plate 9). The young Sherpa recruits wore identity tags around their necks, issued at the point of recruitment.13 At an enlarged scale, however, these badges appeared less as mechanisms of surveillance and more as marks of worth, almost like the medals these Sherpas were never awarded.14 At this scale too, the individuality of the portraits became much more evident. Here visitors to the exhibition could spot the stylish though now middle-aged interpreter Karma Paul, who had become something of a celebrity on Everest expeditions, resplendent in Tibetan costume, as if to confirm his elevated status. Karma Paul – or Palden, to use his Tibetan name – appears directly alongside expedition leader Hugh Ruttledge: neither has an identity tag. Also amongst the Sherpas identified in the exhibition display was the young Tensing Norgay, an enthusiastic member of the 1936 climbing team, 17 years before his successful ascent with Hillary. At this scale, then, the personal and social histories of labour usually hidden from view in conventional histories of exploration and mountaineering, came more clearly into view.

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Plate 8. Everest album, J. M. L. Gavin, 1936 Source: RGS-IBG Collections

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Plate 9. Everest album on display, Hidden Histories of Exploration exhibition, RGS-IBG, October–December 2009 The young Tensing Norgay is the portrait in the top left Source: Photo Philip Hatfield

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At a meeting in the autumn of 1936 held to celebrate the achievements of the Everest expedition earlier that year, the President of the Royal Geographical Society, Henry Balfour, concluded the evening with a tribute to the porters, whom he described as ‘absent heroes’ (Balfour et al. 1936, 523). The re-scaling of their portraits in the 2009 Hidden Histories exhibition effectively brought these men into presence in a way that many visitors to our exhibition found particularly powerful, perhaps because it enabled them to recognise these self-conscious, half-smiling young men as historical agents in all the senses of the term.

Conclusion

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Site and situation: making collections visible
  5. Form and content: looking, naming and situating
  6. Design strategies: role-reversal, juxtaposition and re-scaling
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References

In the context of academic funding, exhibitions are an increasingly popular means of presenting geographical research, a more or less accessible form of public output. In this paper, I have reflected on the experience of producing an exhibition in order to consider the ways in which the format of display can in some circumstances extend, illuminate, clarify or problematise aspects of the research process itself. In retrospect, it became clear that the exhibition team had been juggling two rather different approaches to the uses of historical materials in the display space. The first approach gave priority to principles of archival authenticity, the need to display materials in or near their original form, either as objects or as faithful reproductions. The second sought to align the spatial form of display with the intended message, or ethos, of the exhibition. On the one hand, we wanted as researchers to be as true as possible to the materiality of the collections: rather than airbrushing the imperfections or downplaying the contingency of the archives, we sought to highlight their material qualities as objects. After all, these pieces of paper, books, pictures and artefacts – these raw materials – were not in themselves stories or even fragments of stories: they were part of an institutionally-embedded archive with its own history and geography. On the other hand, we worked with exhibition specialists who used their expertise in design and education to transform the material so that it could serve as a strong and accessible narrative, in the interests of effective communication.

However well-meaning its claims to archival authenticity, any exhibition is inevitably a work of transformation. The Hidden Histories of Exploration exhibition was no exception to this rule: in particular, the process of design helped to shape, and indeed transform, the meanings of the archive as they were presented in the spaces of the exhibition. In this process, the designers themselves performed the role of intermediaries, though their work was itself modified in a process of discussion, revision and reformulation that reflected a number of different interests. Furthermore, as I have emphasised, the need to understand the significance of image-making in the context of exploration and its history was itself a major theme running throughout the exhibition. Here too, the emphasis was on artists, engravers, photographers or film-makers as intermediaries, engaged in a collective work of knowledge production. The story conveyed about their role was not one of agency in any simple sense: these image-makers were not doing their work in a vacuum, they were, precisely, the bearers of larger traditions. Their sketches, maps, engravings, photographs and films were not treated simply as transparent records of individual authorship or experience: in a sense, these artefacts too had their own biographies and larger family histories.

In conclusion, I want to return to the first exhibit discussed in this paper: the camerawork of John Noel on Mount Everest. Three digitally re-worked clips from his compelling film, Climbing Mount Everest (1922), made available by the British Film Institute, were included in the Hidden Histories exhibition and can now be viewed in the accompanying website.15 These included three scenes showing the recruitment of porters at Darjeeling; interpreter Karma Paul acting as go-between at a meeting of the expedition team and the monks of the Rongbuk monastery near the foot of Everest; and, finally, some remarkable footage of the climbers high on the mountain itself. This footage, just over 10 minutes in total, was intended to illustrate key aspects of the argument of the exhibition as a whole: the reliance of expeditions on particular forms of local labour, the role of intermediaries such as interpreters and guides, and the value to explorers of local skills and knowledge. The second scene, between recruitment and ascent, was in some ways the most interesting of all: in the film’s original intertitles, created by Noel, it was portrayed as a vital rite of passage, as the expedition gained the blessing of the monastery’s Head Lama, Zatul Rimpoche, for their intended climb on the mountain. Central to the scene is the figure of the interpreter Karma Paul, filmed as he paces slowly between the senior monks gathered beneath the monastery portico and the party of climbers seated within the courtyard beyond, enacting his role of go-between. Born in Tibet and raised by missionaries in Darjeeling, Paul was a master of many languages, and his role as a broker between the British climbers and Tibetan authorities was undoubtedly vital for the success of the expedition.

But all was not quite as it seemed on screen. The narrative presented in the intertitles to the film – which related the story of the monks giving the expedition their blessing before the climb actually took place – was belied by one fleeting moment in which an object, wrapped in a white scarf, was presented by the Head Lama to General Bruce, head of the expedition (who then has its significance explained to him by Paul). Unnoticed in the intertitles and easily missed by the viewer, the size and shape of the object becomes clear on closer inspection from the gestures of the men, as it is wrapped and unwrapped, passing from one to the other: as a result, it can now be identified as a small bronze Tibetan deity, known as a Tara, an object that is now also held within the RGS-IBG collections (Plate 10). Bruce mentions the statue in his account of the expedition, where it is described as a Green Tara, representing readiness for action (Bruce 1923, 78–9). Such might indeed be thought a suitable gift for someone intending to climb a mountain. But, as is clear from the Tara’s distinguishing features, including multiple eyes on her feet, hands and forehead and her posture, the deity is in fact a White Tara, representing the vigilance of compassion and the power of healing (Shaw 2006, 333–6). The difference becomes significant when we also consider other evidence – confirmed by the recollections of both Bruce and the Head Lama in an autobiographical manuscript (Macdonald 1973) – that the gift was made not prior to the ascent, but on the way down from the mountain; after, that is, the tragic deaths of seven of the porters on the third failed attempt to reach the summit as the monsoon clouds descended. On this evidence, what was represented in the film as a crucial moment of authorisation – the granting of permission for the climbers to ascend the mountain – was clearly something very different and arguably more telling given the human disaster that had unfolded on the upper slopes of Everest. The story has a wider significance in the present context, for it reminds us that historical research, especially where it works against the grain of the archive, necessarily requires shuttling between different forms of evidence: in this case, manuscript, printed texts, photographs, film and last, but not least, objects. The all-seeing Tara, after nearly 90 years in the stores, has a story to tell.

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Plate 10. White Tara presented by Lama Zatul Rimpoche to General Bruce, 1922, bronze Source: RGS-IBG Collections

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Footnotes
  • 1

    The research was supported by the AHRC, initially as part of a Collaborative Doctoral Award and subsequently by a grant under the AHRC Museums, Galleries, Archives & Libraries Scheme. The exhibition displays, containing further image galleries and research resources, are available online at http://www.rgs.org/hiddenhistories (Accessed 15 March 2012).

  • 2

    The project was planned by a management board, also including Vandana Patel, exhibitions projects coordinator; Alasdair Macleod, head of enterprise and resources; and Lowri Jones, research assistant. Many other staff across the Society were involved at different stages.

  • 3

    An historical database of exhibitions organised by the Society, with accompanying source materials, was produced as part of the project: see http://hiddenhistories.rgs.org/index.php/research/geographical-exhibitions (Accessed 15 March 2012).

  • 4

    The four Crossing Continents exhibitions were: ‘Bombay Africans, 1850–1910’, ‘From Kabul to Kandahar, 1833–1933’, ‘Seeing China: Community Reflections’ and ‘The Punjab: Moving Journeys’. These were viewed by over 60 000 visitors: see http://hiddenhistories.rgs.org/index.php/research/geographical-exhibitions#4 (Accessed 15 March 2012).

  • 5

    J. Noel to A. Hinks, 12 June 1922, RGS-IBG Everest Expedition archives, EE/18/3/67.

  • 6

    G. Mallory to G. Young, 11 June 1922, RGS-IBG Everest Expedition archives, EE/3/5/11. See also the typescript account in EE/3/5/13.

  • 7

    ‘Committee assembled to consider compensation to be given to the dependants of the men killed on the Everest Expedition’, dated 11 August 1922, RGS-IBG Everest Expedition archives, EE/18/1/98. The total compensation given was 1900 Rupees, about £130.

  • 8

    The portrait, now in a private collection, is reproduced in the exhibition at http://www.rgs.org/hiddenhistories (Accessed 15 March 2012). The painting is discussed in Honour (1989, 278–9) and Driver (2001, 19–20).

  • 9

    According to one account, Tembo belonged to the ‘great Irahow tribe, which occupies a vast estate of country between Lake Nyassa and the coast’, and along with his companion had been ‘rescued from slavery at Zanzibar, by Colonel Rigby’s interposition, about four years ago’: Illustrated London News, 4 July 1863, 23.

  • 10

    Royal Geographical Society, The Times, 23 June 1863, 14.

  • 11
  • 12

    On the role of the djakse in Java during an earlier period, see Raffles (1830, 309–10).

  • 13

    In one caption given to a photograph of the recruitment of Sherpas in Darjeeling, these tags are mistaken for money: ‘payday on Everest’ (Venables 2003, 200).

  • 14

    The British climbers on Everest in 1922 were awarded medals in Alpinism at the 1924 Winter Olympics: subsequently, the names of two Indian members of the team were added to the list of medal-winners, though these did not include the Sherpas who died on the mountain (Correspondence with the International Olympic Committee concerning the award of medals, RGS-IBG Everest Expedition Archives, EE 30/3).

  • 15

    See the third gallery of nine available at http://hiddenhistories.rgs.org/index.php/gallery (Accessed 15 March 2012).

Acknowledgements

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Site and situation: making collections visible
  5. Form and content: looking, naming and situating
  6. Design strategies: role-reversal, juxtaposition and re-scaling
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References

Earlier versions of this paper were presented at a symposium on Research as Exhibition at Tate Britain, a conference on the Spatial Mobility of Knowledge at the University of Heidelberg, a seminar in the series on Pratiques du voyage et constructions savants du monde at the Université Denis Diderot-Paris 7, and a roundtable on Archives and Empire at the Institute of Historical Research. I am grateful to the participants in these events for their many helpful comments, and to three anonymous referees for pressing me further on the argument. The research and planning for the exhibition was supported by the AHRC under their Museums, Galleries, Archives & Libraries scheme, and I thank Lowri Jones, Catherine Souch, Alasdair Macleod, Vandana Patel, Steve Brace, Daniel Stoker, Janet Turner, Eugene Rae, David McNeill, Sarah Strong, Joy Wheeler, Julie Carrington, Jamie Owen, Cliff Pereira, Joe Madeira, Sally Stiff and Jan Faull for their various contributions.

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  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Site and situation: making collections visible
  5. Form and content: looking, naming and situating
  6. Design strategies: role-reversal, juxtaposition and re-scaling
  7. Conclusion
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References
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