In Autumn 2008 I reviewed Pieter ter Keurs’s book Condensed Reality. A Study of Material Culture (Leiden: CNWS Publications, 2006) for the Journal of Museum Ethnography. Unfortunately due to problems with at the journal’s end the issue which was meant to hold the review has still not appeared. As it is now so long since I wrote the review, and longer since the book was published, I felt it was of benefit to other researchers if I published it here on my website.
This book was a genuinely fascinating read. As I note at the start of the review it is not only of interest to ethnographers and curators with an interest in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia but worthwhile for any scholar of material culture.
Pieter ter Keurs is curator for Indonesian collections at the National Museum of Ethnology (Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde) in Leiden, the Netherlands and the book rose out of his doctoral thesis. His case-studies bring together fieldwork conducted in the Siassi Islands of Papua New Guinea in the early 1980s and on the Enggano in 1994.