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Mobile Museums? 

Cover - Copy.jpg

Image> Collage, Paper Cover. AAP, 2022. Eduardo Cilleruelo Teran.

Mobile Museums? A Note on the Naval Infrastructure to Support the Cultural Footprint of The First British Empire: The Role of Piracy in the Second Half of 16th century.

This article examines the role of piracy and the extension of the political, economic, and logistical network of the sixteenth century to evaluate the role of pirate activities — and by extension of the early British Empire—beyond a monetary purpose, turning the galleons into exhibition spaces for objects, wealth and finds that projected a cultural intention. The initial democratic terms organizing the crew in the distinction of these activities together with the analysis of the cargo hold of the ships frequently used allow the author to consider the pirate ships and their infrastructural deployment as cabinets of curiosities and in extension, mobile proto-museums that could house in very specific spaces different collections that were not then moved together and permanently on land, but were distributed among different actors, diluting their cultural footprint.  

By analyzing the macro-European context in the second half of the sixteenth century, the article is organized in four distinct parts that aim to convey different positions to question the role of pirate activity as an organization more significant than the commonly viewed as an armed wing of England. From the analysis of the theoretical question regarding the definition of the museum, the paper follows the analysis of the stratified and hierarchical colonial order to define boundaries on the organization of piracy itself. The third and fourth parts explore the relationship of culture with the piracy body and the analysis of the ships as the physical spaces that delimit the conception of the mobile museum. Finally, the article ends with an episode of conclusion, where this position is balanced within the historical context and its juxtaposition with the infrastructural perception of the museum as the main expository cultural institution.


Eduardo Cilleruelo Terán


Cornell University

History of Art and Visual Studies, Fall 2022

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