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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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Kultur and Kulturkampf: The Studia Humanitas and the People without History

Kultur and Kulturkampf: The Studia Humanitas and the People without History

(p.38) Chapter 2 Kultur and Kulturkampf: The Studia Humanitas and the People without History
Anthropology and Antihumanism in Imperial Germany
University of Chicago Press

For most of the nineteenth century, historicism had dominated the human sciences in Germany, setting the goals and methods of the study of humankind and offering a cultural and political identity based on the interpretation of textual sources of the European and classical past. For German historians, “culture” involved the European self interpreting what was conceived as its own past, a practice that necessarily excluded all those perceived as “others,” especially non-Europeans. Anthropologists proposed an inversion of this humanist historicism, arguing that to understand humanity scholars should look, not at European and classical “cultural peoples” (Kulturvölker), but rather at non-Europeans who possessed neither culture nor history and who were therefore “natural peoples” (Naturvölker). Anthropology was thus conceived as a natural science of natural peoples, which eschewed what practitioners held to be “subjective” historical narratives in favor of “objective” observations of people uncomplicated by culture and historical development.

Keywords:   anthropology, humanism, historicism, cultural history, natural science, historical development

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