Marginal history

Chris Ballard*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Inspired by Klaus Neumann’s critical approach to Pacific history which attends to the ‘trash’ of the past–‘the irrelevant, the insignificant, the marginal, and the negligible’–this paper revisits the margins of our sources. Captions, doodles, annotations and other forms of marginal trash need to be addressed in their own right, and for the light they shed on the main body of source materials, whether textual, audio-visual, or artefactual. The folio drawings produced by the Russian anthropologist Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay in Oceania between 1871 and 1883 provide an exemplary if fragmentary archive through which the interplay of the central and the marginal, the visual and the textual, can be considered. The visual richness of his sketches and the scope for historical and ethnographic analysis and reconstruction are considerably enhanced and extended by focusing on his many marginal scribbles, which include obvious captions as well as stray observations, word-lists, and other commentaries.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)86-103
    Number of pages18
    JournalHistory and Anthropology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


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