in Anthropology and Antihumanism in Imperial Germany

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780226983417
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226983462 | DOI:

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As the discipline of anthropology emerged all over Europe in the nineteenth century, it was above all in Germany that it functioned as a new antihumanist worldview, and it was in Germany that this anthropological antihumanism had some of its most important and far-reaching effects. Anthropologists argued that the global culture initiated by imperialism, the increasing power of natural scientific methods, and the need for broader participation in the creation of knowledge had rendered traditional humanism obsolete. The history of German anthropology in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries sheds light both on the politics of knowledge in the German Kaiserreich and on the political and cultural valences of the crises that continue to mark the human sciences even today. The first part of this book considers anthropology as a shift in the theories and practices of the human sciences. The second part focuses on how anthropologists sought to redefine German national identity to give their discipline a privileged place in modern German political and cultural life. The third part reconstructs the international culture and political economy of anthropological objects to show how the discipline developed in relation both to the new imperialism and to popular consumer culture. The fourth and final part of the book focuses on how anthropology transformed itself by acknowledging, rather than seeking to deny, its fundamental connections to mass culture and imperialism.

Keywords: antihumanism; imperial Germany; anthropology; human sciences; cultural life; national identity

Chapter.  4431 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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