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Image courtesy of publisher's website.
The Hanged Man and the Body Thief : Finding Lives in a Museum Mystery Issue Details: First known date: 2015... 2015
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'1860. An Aboriginal labourer named Jim Crow is led to the scaffold of the Maitland Gaol in colonial New South Wales. Among the onlookers is the Scotsman AS Hamilton, who will later take bizarre steps in the aftermath of the execution to exhume this young man’s skull. Hamilton is a lecturer who travels the Australian colonies teaching phrenology, a popular science that claims character and intellect can be judged from a person’s head. For Hamilton, Jim Crow is an important prize.

'A century and a half later, researchers at Museum Victoria want to repatriate Jim Crow and other Aboriginal people from Hamilton’s collection of human remains to their respective communities. But their only clues are damaged labels and skulls. With each new find, more questions emerge. Who was Jim Crow? Why was he executed? And how did he end up so far south in Melbourne?

'In a compelling and original work of history, Alexandra Roginski leads the reader through her extensive research aimed at finding the person within the museum piece. Reconstructing the narrative of a life and a theft, she crafts a case study that elegantly navigates between legal and Aboriginal history, heritage studies and biography.

'The Hanged Man and the Body Thief is a nuanced story about phrenology, a biased legal system, the aspirations of a new museum, and the dilemmas of a theatrical third wife. It is most importantly a tale of two very different men, collector and collected, one of whom can now return home.' (Publication summary)

Notes

  • Other formats: Also e-book and large print

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Language: English
    • Clayton, Murrumbeena - Oakleigh - Springvale area, Melbourne South East, Melbourne, Victoria,: Monash University ePress , 2015 .
      6021168686087434766.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 200p.
      Note/s:
      • Published 4 May 2015
      ISBN: 9781922235664

Works about this Work

The Hanged Man and the Body Thief: Finding Lives in a Museum Mystery : Review Helen MacDonald , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Historical Studies , vol. 47 no. 2 2016; (p. 326-327)

— Review of The Hanged Man and the Body Thief : Finding Lives in a Museum Mystery Alexandra Roginski 2015 single work biography
'Franz Joseph Gall developed the science of phrenology in the late eighteenth century, proclaiming that the human brain contained twenty-seven distinct organs, each of which controlled a given faculty—animal propensities, moral sentiments and so on. Crucially, Gall argued that the relative power or weakness of a faculty could be ascertained by examining the shape of a person’s skull. ...'
[Review Essay] The Hanged Man and the Body Thief : Finding Lives in a Museum Mystery Meighen Katz , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: Journal of Australian Studies , November vol. 40 no. 4 2016; (p. 500-502)

— Review of The Hanged Man and the Body Thief : Finding Lives in a Museum Mystery Alexandra Roginski 2015 single work biography

'Phrenology is going through a resurgence, in interest, if not (thankfully) in practice. The supposed ability to assess character and propensity towards deviance though the physical qualities of the skull was a nineteenth-century phenomenon; one of a variety of pseudo-scientific practices that emerged, flourished briefly and disappeared. Unlike many of these experimental knowledge systems, however, its adherents left behind a range of material culture objects including plaster death masks, porcelain heads and human skulls. Having sat on the back shelves of museum collections for over a century, phrenology objects are returning to display across a host of institutions. In the past 12 months alone, phrenological death masks appeared in “Sideshow Alley” at the National Portrait Gallery (Australia), cases at the Old Melbourne Gaol, “My Learned Object” at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, “The Crime Museum Uncovered” at the Museum of London, and a case on phrenology at the Science Museum (UK). Frederick Bailey Deeming had the dubious honour earlier this year of having copies of his death mask on display in both Canberra and London concurrently. Given this current museological interest, Alexandra Roginski's book, The Hanged Man and the Body Thief, is timely. Using the collections of Museum Victoria as both a starting and end point, Roginski relates the intersection of the lives of Scottish phrenologist A.S. Hamilton and executed Aboriginal Australian Jim Crow, whose skull Hamilton illegally exhumed.' (Introduction)

Stolen Remains on the Way Back Home Carolyn Webb , 2015 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 20 June 2015; (p. 13)

— Review of The Hanged Man and the Body Thief : Finding Lives in a Museum Mystery Alexandra Roginski 2015 single work biography
Author's Final Chapter to Return Subject's Remains to His People Carolyn Webb , 2015 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 20 June 2015; (p. 6)

— Review of The Hanged Man and the Body Thief : Finding Lives in a Museum Mystery Alexandra Roginski 2015 single work biography
Author's Final Chapter to Return Subject's Remains to His People Carolyn Webb , 2015 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 20 June 2015; (p. 6)

— Review of The Hanged Man and the Body Thief : Finding Lives in a Museum Mystery Alexandra Roginski 2015 single work biography
Stolen Remains on the Way Back Home Carolyn Webb , 2015 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 20 June 2015; (p. 13)

— Review of The Hanged Man and the Body Thief : Finding Lives in a Museum Mystery Alexandra Roginski 2015 single work biography
The Hanged Man and the Body Thief: Finding Lives in a Museum Mystery : Review Helen MacDonald , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Historical Studies , vol. 47 no. 2 2016; (p. 326-327)

— Review of The Hanged Man and the Body Thief : Finding Lives in a Museum Mystery Alexandra Roginski 2015 single work biography
'Franz Joseph Gall developed the science of phrenology in the late eighteenth century, proclaiming that the human brain contained twenty-seven distinct organs, each of which controlled a given faculty—animal propensities, moral sentiments and so on. Crucially, Gall argued that the relative power or weakness of a faculty could be ascertained by examining the shape of a person’s skull. ...'
[Review Essay] The Hanged Man and the Body Thief : Finding Lives in a Museum Mystery Meighen Katz , 2016 single work review
— Appears in: Journal of Australian Studies , November vol. 40 no. 4 2016; (p. 500-502)

— Review of The Hanged Man and the Body Thief : Finding Lives in a Museum Mystery Alexandra Roginski 2015 single work biography

'Phrenology is going through a resurgence, in interest, if not (thankfully) in practice. The supposed ability to assess character and propensity towards deviance though the physical qualities of the skull was a nineteenth-century phenomenon; one of a variety of pseudo-scientific practices that emerged, flourished briefly and disappeared. Unlike many of these experimental knowledge systems, however, its adherents left behind a range of material culture objects including plaster death masks, porcelain heads and human skulls. Having sat on the back shelves of museum collections for over a century, phrenology objects are returning to display across a host of institutions. In the past 12 months alone, phrenological death masks appeared in “Sideshow Alley” at the National Portrait Gallery (Australia), cases at the Old Melbourne Gaol, “My Learned Object” at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, “The Crime Museum Uncovered” at the Museum of London, and a case on phrenology at the Science Museum (UK). Frederick Bailey Deeming had the dubious honour earlier this year of having copies of his death mask on display in both Canberra and London concurrently. Given this current museological interest, Alexandra Roginski's book, The Hanged Man and the Body Thief, is timely. Using the collections of Museum Victoria as both a starting and end point, Roginski relates the intersection of the lives of Scottish phrenologist A.S. Hamilton and executed Aboriginal Australian Jim Crow, whose skull Hamilton illegally exhumed.' (Introduction)

Last amended 14 Sep 2016 10:59:40
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