When Kleiweg de Zwaan became the head of the physical anthropology department of the Colonial Institute , he donated copies of his own collection to the Institute and continued to collect facial casts and casts of skulls too. From the work of historians of science Daston and Galison however, we can distil three different functions of the casts. Objectivity in this period came to mean mechanical objectivity, a way to pursue knowledge that aims to bear no trace of a prejudiced or subjective scientist between nature and knowledge.
Historians of anthropology have connected the rise of photography in anthropology with this mechanical objectivity.
Casts and photographs provided physical anthropologists with ways to capture nature without intervention. The detailed and lifelike quality of plaster casts and photographs was mentioned most often as their most important feature and the rhetoric of anthropologists was suffused with accolades of their supposed self-evident objectivity.
Because casts and photographs were so close to nature, anthropologists even suggested that it should be possible to measure bodily dimensions from them instead of from the living body. This would produce the quantification of the body so highly valued in this era of mechanical objectivity and it would allow the anthropologist in Europe to study the bodies of people overseas, even if amateurs or other anthropologists had produced the casts. Casts could also be reproduced and exchanged and measurements from casts could be more easily checked and compared.
In the Museum of Man: Race, Anthropology, and Empire in France, 1850-1950
Besides the fact that making casts was time-consuming and inconvenient for the research subject, there were other problems. Anthropometry reduced bodies to numbers, but almost every generation of anthropologists reached a point in their careers where they became disappointed with measurements, because there were human peculiarities that could not be captured in numbers while anthropologists were convinced from their experience that they recognised specific types. Plaster casts, anthropologists thought, could convey these aspects of race that could not be expressed in numbers.
By looking at a whole series of individuals, anthropologists and other observers could train their eyes to observe racial peculiarities. Daston and Galison argue that this method became the new ideal of the objective rendering of reality in the early twentieth century and this fits nicely with the heyday of Dutch colonial physical anthropology, but in fact anthropologists used the three strategies interchangeably over the years.
The last two strategies needed more interference from the individual anthropologist, but were based on his expertise in examining bodies and races through medical training and fieldwork. Prisoners and convict workers were the most easily accessible, even though anthropologists complained that they were not the best examples of the races of the archipelago.
In a manual for scientific travellers, Serrurier gave detailed instructions. For a face about one and a half kilos of burnt plaster was needed. To prevent a painful burning sensation on the skin when the plaster was taken off, faces, hands and hair were rubbed with oil. Goose quills were to be put in the nose so that the subject could breathe.
Then the plaster was applied, set and removed. For the person subjected to the treatment, the plaster sometimes felt hot but not painful, according to Serrurier. He and his assistant each first greased hair, eyebrows and beards, but not the face because this would make facial furrows less visible in the plaster. After cutting the hair, they put the subject on his back on the floor with his head on a pillow and applied plaster to the face.
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The faster they worked the less plaster dripped into the hair. Kleiweg emphasised that he had been careful to keep the nose holes free from plaster so breathing was possible. Taking off the plaster was the most difficult part of the operation and needed to be done slowly and carefully. In comparison with photographs, the making of casts was intrusive and could be unpleasant if not done properly. His first series of casts were made when, as a recently graduated doctor, he was asked to accompany Alfred Maass on his expedition to the Padang highlands of central Sumatra in the Dutch Indies, to study the anthropological characteristics of the Minangkabau ethnic group.
Before Kleiweg first left for the Indies, he went to Berlin for a few weeks for a crash-course in anthropology with German anthropologist Felix von Luschan, then director of the Africa and Oceania Department of the Ethnological Museum in Berlin. As Zimmerman explains, hands and feet were thought to be important because they were associated with the erect posture and skills of humans as opposed to the great apes and differed greatly amongst humans.
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From their destination, the travellers sent many of the moulds to Europe, in large boxes filled with dried grass. The moulds were fragile and the anthropologists wanted them to arrive in Europe undamaged.
Kleiweg described how one day a Nias man got some plaster behind his ears through his own fault, he wrote , making it impossible to remove the mask. No resistance is mentioned of those prisoners, whose bodies were already fully disciplined by colonial rule.
In spite of hard cash, encouragement or the subtle emphasis on the government it was hard to find people. Kleiweg promised the recovery of his powers after he had subjected himself to the anthropometrical measurements and the taking of the facial masks. The cast, Maass added, would also serve as a permanent memory of the man, illustrating that for anthropologists the masks sometimes represented specific individuals and encounters. The life of these positive masks in Germany and the Netherlands can give us some clues as to the way they were used to create and convey ideas about race.
The moulds from the Padang highlands were first shipped to Luschan in Berlin, the man who had taught Kleiweg how to make them in the first place, and he had the masks made in the Plaster Workshop of the Royal Museums in Berlin where the negatives are still held. From his measurements he concluded that the Minangkabau Malays from the village of Taluk differed in 28 somatic characteristics from their hinterland neighbours, but because these measurements did not capture all their characteristics he also noted down his observations. The head of Minangkabau-Malay people was very variable, but the faces were often not too high or wide and oval but in some cases they had sharper features, with prominent cheekbones.
Kleiweg saw among the Mingkabau-Malays a stupid type and a more intelligent type with a high forehead, an almost Semitic nose and a long neck.
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The 57 Minangkabau men from Sumatra were listed with their places of birth if known , age and occupation. The 55 year old merchant and landlord with marital problems was listed as number three. However, it is hard to combine the people in his book with the photographs and measurements that Kleiweg published. Apparently the casts needed to be studied separately and as a group and not combined with the measurements. Maass told the members of the society how at first sight it looked as if the heads were not pure representatives of their races. Because of their individuality, at first sight it was hard to understand what they were meant to communicate.
Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History. In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Reviewed by:. Nina de Garmo Spalding wrote a children's book, The Story of Jason ,  and an article about traveling in Holland for a Catholic periodical. Nina Spalding Stevens's short stories and articles were published in various publications.
In the Museum of Man: Race, Anthropology, and Empire in France, 1850-1950
Stevens, recounting much of their work together in the museum's early years. Nina Spalding married twice. Her first husband was George W.
Stevens; they married in , and she was widowed when he died in