When thinking about collecting contemporary medical objects we are constantly haunted by the question ‘Why?’. Why collect? What is collecting about? What’s its cultural significance? There are shelves of books that try to answer these and similar questions. The last in the row is Paul van der Grijp’s (Professor of Anthropology at the University of Science and Technology in Lille, France) Passion and Profit: Towards an Anthropology of Collecting (Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2006) which the author describes as follows:

Collecting is a matter of authenticity, of creating new identities, both of the objects collected and, by extension, of the collector. Passion and Profit provides a range of biographical examples, both historical and contemporary, and also includes a selective analysis and personal evaluation of the increasingly rich and varied literature on collecting. The collectibles discussed in Passion and Profit are not only elitist cultural objects such as works of art (ancient, modern or tribal), antiques and books, but also non-elitist objects such as stamps, postcards, plants, and other mass- produced items. The central research question is: What is the cultural phenomenon of collecting all about? Or, more specifically: What moves collectors? In addressing this question, this book aims to be a substantial contribution to the collecting literature from an anthropological point of view.

(I haven’t read it yet — has someone?)

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