Historical anthropology

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Historical anthropology refers to a transdisciplinary research direction that emerged in Germany in the early 1980s , which examines the fundamental phenomena of human existence in their historical variability.


Historical anthropology is taught in Germany and Austria at both historical and sociological and cultural studies seminars. Its forerunners are on the one hand the French mentality history of the Annales School and the historical anthropology of the École de Paris , the Anglo-Saxon cultural anthropology and the philosophical anthropology , which was widespread in Germany for a long time, and on the other hand the everyday history , which was heavily discussed in the 1980s .

Historical anthropology understands history as historical practice. The focus is on the diversity and changeability of culturally shaped ways of life and experience. From this perspective, everyday realities are considered to have been shaped and carried, changed or destroyed by historical actors. Not "anthropological constants" should be explored. Rather, questions focus on the concrete “doing, doing” and “expressing” events and configurations as well as their perceptions. The material everyday life of people turn out to be changeable, at the same time changing moments of historical processes. This includes the profiles of interests and emotions in their practical effects and implementation, but also in their medial and symbolic-ritual requirements and mediations. Situational links are developed; At the same time, the focus is on social fields of force and action spaces, at the same time their different temporalities.

These research perspectives by no means remain abstract. They focus on specific subject areas and fields of work that are not given enough consideration in historical studies. Examples of this are the history of work , violence and war as an interrelationship between production and destruction, the history of the body and sexuality (s) , as well as the historically comparative consideration of image productions and uses, especially their symbolic "charges" Historical anthropology and everyday history operate at the interface between various disciplines, in particular ethnology , literary , religious and media studies as well as gender studies . In theory and research practice, postcolonial perspectives call for history to be thought beyond Eurocentrism and methods, terms and concepts to be placed in their historical context.

Historical anthropology wants to answer Kant's question : “What is man?” Ultimately no longer only with regard to the white, European man of modernity.

Methodically, she tries to meet the demand that has been raised again and again since the sixties, to link historiographical and cultural anthropological or ethnological methods, perspectives and questions and to bring them into a fruitful dialogue.

Institutional anchoring

The historical anthropology department at the University of Erfurt , headed from 1999 to 2004 by Hans Medick and then by Alf Lüdtke , ceased operations in October 2008. The honorary professor of historical anthropology (currently: Alf Lüdtke) continues the work of the office at the University of Erfurt.

In Mainz, the anthropology course, which also offered a focus on historical anthropology, ended in 2008.

In Freiburg, an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary course in historical and biological anthropology is offered.

The interdisciplinary master's degree in Transcultural History and Anthropology was offered at the University of Konstanz .

The University of Bern offers a research focus that deals primarily with funeral customs and paleopathology , while the specialization in historical anthropology at the University of Basel is much broader.

There is an institute for historical anthropology in Vienna.

Christoph Wulf heads the Interdisciplinary Center for Historical Anthropology at the Free University of Berlin .

Claudia Bruns holds the professorship for historical anthropology and gender studies at the HU Berlin .

Since the summer semester of 2012 there has been a professorship for historical anthropology / European ethnology at Saarland University under the direction of Barbara Krug-Richter.



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Institute page : Profile honorary professor "Historical Anthropology". In: Uni-Erfurt.de . March 10, 2014, accessed December 28, 2019.
  2. Institute website : Interdisciplinary Center for Historical Anthropology. In: FU-Berlin.de . 2019, accessed December 28, 2019.