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Anthropology's Global HistoriesThe Ethnographic Frontier in German New Guinea, 1870-1935$
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Rainer F. Buschmann

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824831844

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824831844.001.0001

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Berlin’s Monopoly

Berlin’s Monopoly

Chapter:
(p.12) Chapter 1 Berlin’s Monopoly
Source:
Anthropology's Global Histories
Author(s):

Rainer F. Buschmann

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824831844.003.0002

Despite his opposition to colonial expansion and annexation, Berlin Ethnological Museum founder Adolf Bastian realized the possibilities for research emerging from German imperial ventures. Bastian and his assistants at the museum saw the import of Oceania and New Guinea for anthropological endeavors. Supposedly isolated for centuries, Oceanic regions promised unspoiled cultures that were fit to salvage and display in museum hallways. This “salvage” project, however, also required Bastian and Berlin's future director of the African and Oceanic division, Felix von Luschan, to engage the very agents who threatened the cultural continuity of Oceanic cultures. In short, the ethnographic frontier needed to interact with the colonial periphery. Such interaction could hardly avoid an intersection with German colonial projects. This engagement brought about a split between theory and practice of ethnographic collecting that would ultimately inform the development of the anthropological discipline in Germany. This chapter chronicles how Bastian and Luschan attempted to control German colonial agents' collecting practices. This practice triggered resentment among other museum officials not affiliated with the Berlin institution.

Keywords:   ethnographic frontier, Berlin Ethnological Museum, Adolf Bastian, Felix von Luschan, Oceania, German colonial project, anthropology

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