Monday, October 15, 2007

The German-Speaking Countries

Gingrich, Andre (2005) The German-Speaking Countries. Ruptures, Schools, and Nontraditions: Reassessing the History of Sociocultural Anthropology in German, In: Barth/Gingrich/Parkin/Silverman, Sydel (2005) One Discipline, Four Ways: British, German, French, and American Anthropology. Chicago: Chicago University Press, PP. 61 - 153

Contents

1 Prelude and Overture: From Early Travelogues to German Enlightenment

2 From the Nationalist Birth of Volkskunde to the Establishment of Academic Diffusionism: Branching Off from the International Mainstream

3 From the Late Imperial Era to the End of the Republican Interlude: Creative Subaltern Tendencies, Larger and Smaller Schools of Anthropology

4 German Anthropology during the Nazi Period: Complex Scenarios of Collaboration, Persecution and Competition

5 Anthropology in Four German-Speaking Countries: Key Elements of Post-World War II Developments to 1989

The following text is an excerpt and overview of the first part in the first chapter to explain critique and research approach.

Ad 1) After George Stocking, the presentist approach to Anthropology nowadays implies criticist and internationally oriented positions. Professor Gingrich uses nontraditions "to refer, on the one hand, to dispersed, hidden, and half-forgotten treasures with little continuity and, on the other, to certain schools with a lot of continuity that, however, do not represent any positive tradition today" (Gingrich 2005: 61). The basic implications of a presentist stand are:

  1. Historical traditions that had consequences for sociocultural anthropology as perceived today in an internationally valid sense
  2. The international, transnational and global dimensions of today´s anthropological discourses and debates
  3. The linguistic and temporal limits of examining the historical record of anthropology in German.

There are three critical consequences of the critical insterest of Professor Gingrich´s approach outlined

  1. The explicit embracing of the broad set of values to share, which are secular democracy and humanism. This would necessitate precise ideological criticism and careful, distantiated evaluation
  2. The reassessment of hegemonic traditions of the past with relatively little interantional relevance. Peripheral and subaltern traditions never received local recognition and they appear much more interesting now, than what was respected and taught then.
  3. A new consideration of the extremely hierarchical nature of academic institutions in the German-speaking countries, "these hierarchical academic positions answered to wider political interests much more explicitely than academic positions elsewhere" (Gingrich 2005: 63).

This part of the book concerning the German-speaking countries goes on with subchapters titled The German Enlightenment, Enlightenment Explorers, Language Studies and First Concepts, Limited Consequences.

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3 Conversations:

J de Leon said...

I think that this and the French section of the book is the most educational for people coming from the Anglosphere. A lot of the stuff from the British section was familiar to me and I was so bored with it that I only skimmed the US chapters, but the history of French and German anthropology was really fascinating because it was all new to me. I also recently bought Anthropology in East and Southeast Asia because party to further develop my knowledge of world anthropology.

Sybil Amber said...

Dear J De Leon, for world anthropology the Robert Borosfsky volume is a good choice, said our professor. It is called "Assessing Cultural Anthropology" 1994 is authored by many anthropologists from around the world.

J de Leon said...

Thanks, that's good to know. I'll check it out next time I'm someplace with good English-language books, there aren't a lot of those in Costa Rica.