Jenny Brown

Jenny Brown

Hello, my name is Jenny and I live in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. I work as a curator in museums and am interested in how we can use objects and artworks to tell stories. I also love dancing.

Location Aberdeen

Activity

  • I agree that his opinions are reprehensible but I found the article linked above very interesting - fascinating to begin to understand how he came to hold those views and to understand some of the underlying beliefs and assumptions. I believe if we are to beat racism we have to engage with it, not simply condemn it, and this article helped me to see how and...

  • Yes, good point! There's a strong movement to "decolonise" museum collections at the moment and I think it's really interesting to consider who is really in control of that in light of your point.

  • Looks like a great read, thanks. This quote from the review seemed particularly pertinent to the course:
    "Frankopan quotes a Chinese commentator who has pointed out that “China had never been a colonial power. ‘If it hasn’t been in the past, why should it be now?’” But as any student of 20th-century America knows, you don’t need to call yourself an empire to...

  • I think I'm with Susan here - representative government was rarely represented all white people until late on and we saw in the course how the law was applied differently for different races.

  • Hello Rachel! Small world... Taxation without representation was the gripe in the American colonies I think...

  • Literacy levels are not as low as people often think - increasingly from the civil war onwards and with a big jump from mid 18th to mid 19th century. Even being unable to read doesn't mean you can't access information - people would read newspapers etc aloud for others in their community, not to mention the prevalence of powerful visual...

  • Yes, this week has highlighted the same to me - particularly that Victorian era propoganda and it's paternalistic vibe, does seem to linger in the British pysche.

  • Yes I agree it was largely unconscious but think that maybe it became more overt at times, for example the attempted rescue of Gordon of Khartoum brought about by public pressure.

  • I'm not so sure - the British economy was closely tied to Empire, particularly turning imported raw materials into manufactured goods. We saw earlier in the course that almost every corner of British industry had a relationship to empire. So, many working class people would have been aware that their livelihoods were linked to empire. When we reach the...

  • In an era before polls and surveys how easy is it to understand public opinion and is it realistic for us to attempt to evaluate the British imperial psyche?
    We do have evidence through the small stories of individuals' attitudes as well as other evidence such as literature, editorials and the material culture. We can evaluate the empire pysche as much as...

  • I found it interesting to learn that the colonial authorities used missionaries to further the imperial agenda in the week on religion fascinating. It is indeed almost impossible to unpick!

  • The discussion about whether these images are propoganda is a challenging one. Similar to the adventure stories, I see them as reflecting and profiting from an existing interest in empire... In doing so they perpetuate the existing colonial ideology. Because the format is so innocuous (like the matchbox we saw earlier), the viewers are not encouraged to engage...

  • I agree with the thrust of your arguments but I do struggle to unlock motives. Yes, people did believe they were improving the lives of the colonised but we saw earlier in the course how this was a narrative largely invented by Disraeli when Britain took over running India from the EIC. Was paternalism a motive or something people told themselves to feel...

  • I think Jane Eyre was mentioned earlier in the course - Rochester's wife is from the Carribbean and Jane is asked to marry her missionary cousin.

  • Good question!

  • Thanks for the recommendation, added to my reading list.

  • Not an example from India but another example of the sexualised image of the 'other' in the imperial past having repurcussions today: https://abm.me.uk/breastfeeding-information/breastfeeding-as-a-black-woman/

  • Thanks for the tip!

  • Had a brief search but only found this: https://www.rgs.org/schools/teaching-resources/gender-inequality-and-women-in-geography/

    I'd love it if they published their membership profile - it would make me feel they were more sincere about addressing inequalities.

  • It's something archives and museums are increasingly trying to address, particularly in how we collect contemporary material for the historians of the future. As well as trying to decolonise our existing collections.

  • Jenny Brown made a comment

    In my work as a curator, we often use personal stories to illustrate larger historical narratives because they are more engaging for people visiting exhibitions. Often we will feature a number of individuals or small stories (the phrase "hidden histories" was popular a few years ago) to show a range of experiences. However, we are careful not to embellish...

  • I agree - you put it very eloquently.

  • An interesting discussion... And I agree with what you're both saying but allow me one small challenge... I feel there's an underlying assumption to both your statements that the "traditional" "female" pursuits are somehow less important or less rewarding. I would argue that this is a persistent cultural bias that unfortunately perpetuates gender stereotypes.

  • It's black breastfeeding week as I read this and I've been reading about how black bodies are hyper sexualised, contributing to low breastfeeding rates, so really interested to explore the history of this.

  • I'm really interested in the role of missionaries - I've never really thought about their specific context or their motivation that much, and I'm intrigued about how the relationship with formal empire developed.

  • @ChloeRandall it's on my reading list already!

  • I highly recommend Adam Rutherford's book 'how the argue with a racist' which explores the relationship between race and genetics, including unpicking some stereotypes based on race that are prevalent today. I'm keeping it in mind as we explore this topic.

  • From my reading online, I would say that the UK government is liable because the documentary evidence is reported to indicate that Whitehall was involved, not just the colonial administration as the UK government suggests. If individuals' cases are true then there should be compensation and an apology.

    However, there were atrocities on both sides and true...

  • Yes, you've captured my feeling about this film/section - I feel we were being led to a specific answer but I was struggling to articulate it.

    Your point re. parenting though - is the difference that it is appropriate for parents to govern their own children, whereas a colonial power is akin to someone you've only just met coming in and arbitrarily changing...

  • Are Empires intrinsically violent? If we include all the forms of violence included in the film, then yes - because empire includes the imposition of some form of overarching order or powers over existing social structure.

    What is specifically colonial about colonial violence? I think it's partly that idea of an external power/state/people imposing itself...

  • Thanks for your insight. Really useful for me to begin to see the nuance between the different terms

  • You raise a good point about whether any contemporaries see value in the colonies' original way of life. We haven't seen much of the indigenous perspective yet. If good was seen though, would it perhaps have been appropriated and promoted through the machine of empire, rather than credited to source?

  • Did you hear anything about which you didn’t know, and did anything surprise you?
    I've learnt a lot about the scope of empire both in it's longevity and geographic spread. I think each era We've looked at is a huge topic and there are nuances to the academic language that we can't hope to understand in such a brief time!

    What do you think ‘Empire’ meant...

  • Thanks for the link

  • Whilst I agree we should not wipe people like Colston from history as we need to teach and learn our darker past; and whilst I agree museums are wonderful places for learning... I am a museum curator and don't want to be saddled with enormous statues of disputed figures. Most museums want to use their limited resources to seek out and preserve and share more...

  • I don't remember being taught much about Empire at school (UK) so most of my knowledge comes from novels and TV, and a few factual books written from the British perspective. Interestingly it also didn't come up much in Anthropology at university, but it must surely be relevant there... I've wanted to do this course for a while as it's pertinent to my work but...

  • Thank you for being so honest. My education was similar - where empire was covered it wasn't presented as bad, and the present day legacies not really mentioned.

  • Evaluation is not neutral - yes, never really stopped to think about it like that! In this sense, how we choose to evaluate something will determine what we consider important, and therefore what we will focus our (often limited) resources on. So for example, intangible heritage has become more prominent in recent years in tandem with an increase in it's...

  • Yes, it does have a rich industrial heritage but no, it's not a big part of it's cultural heritage offer because whilst the majority of it's older industries have now closed or moved away because of the rise of the oil industry. We didn't have an industrial crisis - Aberdeen welcomed oil prosperity and forgot to care for a lot of it's industrial heritage. I...

  • A really interesting film - as it states, it's often those relationships between different areas of governance and stakeholders that's really interesting and probably has lots of other benefits going forward.

  • Lots of people saying there should be a visitors centre but I'm not sure this is the right infrastructure - it draws visitors to a single place, and limits the opportunities for local businesses to benefit. Infrastructure is key, better transport links and signposting as well as encouraging the local community to better understand the potential available to...