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Anthropology and Antihumanism in Imperial Germany$
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Andrew Zimmerman

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780226983417

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226983462.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 20 October 2019

Exotic Spectacles and the Global Context of German Anthropology

Exotic Spectacles and the Global Context of German Anthropology

Chapter:
(p.15) Chapter 1 Exotic Spectacles and the Global Context of German Anthropology
Source:
Anthropology and Antihumanism in Imperial Germany
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226983462.003.0002

In the years before World War I, the majority of encounters between German anthropologists and the people they studied occurred in Germany, in circuses, panopticons, and zoos. To dismiss science of this sort as “armchair anthropology,” as groundless speculation based on unreliable sources, would be to ignore the foundations of anthropology in a global culture of imperialism and in the popular culture of exotic spectacles. Although anthropologists themselves rarely conducted research abroad, they did study individuals from around the world who traveled to Europe to perform in popular ethnographic shows, or Völkerschauen. Performers, however, were not merely shaped according to anthropological expectations; they often came to Europe with personal and political agendas that sometimes led to conflicts with anthropologists. They often disrupted—and thereby illuminated—the conceptual and political structures presupposed by anthropology.

Keywords:   German anthropology, imperialism, ethnography, performers, political structures, exotic performances

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