A “MISSING LINK”? A SET OF GENITAL PIERCING INSTRUMENTS FROM BRITISH NORTH BORNEO IN THE COLLECTIONS OF ALBERT GRUBAUER IN ST. PETERSBURG AND MUNICH
Research into a set of genital piercing instruments from British North Borneo
in the collections of Albert Grubauer in the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography – Kunstkamera in St. Petersburg and in the Museum Fünf Kontinente in Munich shows how such new assemblages of
objects and documents from different institutions can offer answers for old ethnological conundrums. In contemporary regimes of knowledge, enhanced and facilitated by the digital networks of the Internet, ethnographic collections once scattered around the world and separated by political and institutional borders and geographical distances, can now be joined together again. In this case the assemblage of objects has led to the question as to whether the custom of genital piercing was practiced not only among the Kayan, Kenyah and Iban of Borneo and in the Southern Philippines, but also among the Murut and Kadazandusun in Sabah in Northeast Borneo. The latter are
close neighbours and could provide the “missing link” between Borneo and the Philippines for the procedure of genital piercing. Moreover, putting these pieces together now also means trying to track the historical development of ethnographic museums as institutions of knowledge production embedded in international networks. This development is inevitably affected by the course of historical events such as two world wars, the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall.