<i>Kultur</i> and <i>Kulturkampf:</i> The <i>Studia Humanitas</i> and the People without History

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

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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

Chapter.  9752 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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