Anthropology's Global Histories: The Ethnographic Frontier by Rainer F. Buschmann

By Rainer F. Buschmann

Anthropologists and global historians make unusual bedfellows. even though the latter often hire anthropological equipment of their descriptions of cross-cultural exchanges, the previous have raised large reservations approximately worldwide techniques to historical past. Fearing lack of specificity, anthropologists item to the effacing characteristics of options hired by means of global historians--this even though anthropology itself was once a world, comparative firm within the 19th century. Rainer Buschmann the following seeks to recuperate a few of anthropology's international style by means of viewing its heritage in Oceania throughout the idea of the ethnographic frontier--the furthermost limits of the anthropologically identified areas of the Pacific. The colony of German New Guinea (1884-1914) offers a fantastic instance of simply the sort of touch region. Colonial directors there have been attracted to ways in part encouraged via anthropology. Anthropologists and museum officers exploited this curiosity by means of getting ready large-scale expeditions to German New Guinea. Buschmann explores the ensuing interactions among German colonial officers, resident ethnographic creditors, and indigenous peoples, arguing that every one have been instrumental within the formation of anthropological idea. He exhibits how alterations in accumulating goals and strategies helped shift ethnographic learn clear of its concentrate on fabric artifacts to a broader attention of indigenous tradition. He additionally indicates how ethnological gathering, frequently a aggressive affair, may perhaps turn into politicized and attach to nationwide matters. ultimately, he locations the German adventure within the broader context of Euro-American anthropology. Anthropology's international Histories will curiosity scholars and students of anthropology, historical past, international heritage, and Pacific experiences.

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Additional info for Anthropology's Global Histories: The Ethnographic Frontier in German New Guinea, 1870-1935 (Perspectives on the Global Past)

Sample text

In 1874 the German navy commissioned one of its newest vessels, the Gazelle, to journey around the world. The primary objective of the expedition was to undertake astronomical and oceanographic observations at different Berlin’s Monopoly 21 intervals. Bastian, on hearing about this mission, approached his superior, Usedom, to assist him with contacting the German navy. After a successful round of negotiations between Prussian authorities and the German Admiralty, naval authorities agreed to include ethnographic collecting among the scientific tasks of the ship’s crew.

The naturalists accompanying Cook went to great pains to demonstrate that their endeavors were indeed licensed rather than licentious. Depicting artifacts in engravings without regard for their indigenous context became the preferred mode of representation. ”10 Unlike Cook’s gentlemen, the less-educated crew collected indigenous items for profit, often in competition with naturalists. Artificial curiosities required less effort to collect, preserve, and store than natural specimens. Cook’s sailors lacked scientific training, and the cramped conditions aboard his vessels made proper storage of natural curiosities difficult.

The reasons for the poor state of Thiel’s collection were obvious: Those places visited by government steamers are entirely depleted of artifacts. The only white person in close contact with the natives is the hopelessly isolated trader, who is visited at the most once or twice [a year] by a company schooner. Hailing from a rather low educational background, this poor soul has understandably very little interest in local “curiosities,” unless they are somewhat connected to commerce. Those occasional ethnographic acquisitions are usually sent as commodities to the main station from where 40 Chapter 2 they are eventually forwarded to a museum; sometimes interested visitors intercept them before leaving the territory.

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