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Birth of the Modern

Reesarch guide supporting AHCS 121: Birth of the Modern


National Identity

From Wikipedia: Nationalism is a political, social, and economic system characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation, especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining sovereignty (self-governance) over the homeland. The political ideology of nationalism holds that a nation should govern itself, free from outside interference and is linked to the concept of self-determination. Nationalism is further oriented towards developing and maintaining a national identity based on shared, social characteristics, such as culture and language, religion and politics, and a belief in a common ancestry. Nationalism, therefore, seeks to preserve a nation's culture, by way of pride in national achievements, and is closely linked to patriotism, which, in some cases, includes the belief that the nation should control the country's government and the means of production.

Theft, Repatriation, and Restitution

Kimmelman, Michael. "Who Draws The Borders Of Culture?" New York Times, 9 May 2010, p. 1(L). Accessed 12 Jan. 2021.

"ROYAL B.C. MUSEUM BEGINS REPATRIATING INDIGENOUS ARTIFACTS, CHANGES POLICY TO STOP COLLECTING REMAINS." Globe & Mail [Toronto, Canada], 20 May 2019, p. A6. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, Accessed 12 Jan. 2021.


From Wikipedia: Primitivism is a mode of aesthetic idealization that either emulates or aspires to recreate "primitive" experience. In Western art, primitivism typically has borrowed from non-Western or prehistoric people perceived to be "primitive", such as Paul Gauguin's inclusion of Tahitian motifs in paintings and ceramics. Borrowings from primitive art has been important to the development of modern art, Primitivism has often been critiqued for reproducing the racist stereotypes about non-European peoples used by Europeans to justify colonial conquest

From Wikipedia: Human zoos, also called ethnological expositions, were 19th-, 20th-century public exhibitions of humans, usually in a so-called natural or primitive state. Both the 1878 and the 1889 Parisian World's Fair presented a "Negro Village."


From Wikipedia: Orientalism is a term used by art historians and literary and cultural studies scholars for the imitation or depiction of aspects in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and East Asian cultures (Eastern world). These depictions are usually done by writers, designers, and artists from the West. In particular, Orientalist painting, depicting more specifically "the Middle East", was one of the many specialisms of 19th-century academic art, and the literature of Western countries took a similar interest in Oriental themes.

Orientalism by Nancy Demerdash.

What is Orientalism? from the Arab American National Museum

Search Terms

Here is selection of relevant search terms and phrases:

  • Antiquities - Collection and preservation
  • Art thefts
  • Benin (Kingdom)
  • Bini (African people)
  • Bronzes / Bronze sculpture
  • Cultural patrimony
  • Cultural policy
  • Cultural property
  • Cultural property repatriation
  • Indigenous peoples Antiquities Collection and preservation
  • Nigeria
  • Provenance
  • Repatriation
  • Restitution
  • Universal museums

Similar issues:

  • Elgin Marbles / Parthenon Marbles
  • Getty Museum returning sculptures to Italy
  • Human remains (archaeology)
  • National socialism and art
  • Nazi-era provenance research

Where to Use Them

Use these search terms in our research databases and the library catalog as well as for Wikipedia and general web surfing.

Databases and other reference resources index key terms to help users find the information they need. These are listed as SUBJECT HEADINGS or CATEGORIES

Unfortunately, they all use different terms to describe the same concept. Due to usage, spelling, popularity, and discipline, these terns are not consistent across all research resources.

It may take a long time for these new terms to get updated in our databases. For instance, the Library of Congress changed the subject heading for Illegal aliens to Noncitizens in 2016 (read more about this decision [PDF])

Here are some recent changes in terminology:

  • Enslaved persons instead of Slaves
  • Unhoused instead of Homeless

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