A project on the history of European Ethnology supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG):
Funding institution: German Research Foundation (DFG)
Project duration: 1 August 2015 - 31 July 2018
Project management: Prof. Dr. Friedemann Schmoll
Research assistant: Dr. Anita Bagus
The historiography of European Ethnology is characterized by two significant converging desiderata: Firstly, the focus on the national origins of European Ethnology largely ignores transnational scholarly entanglements and transfers. Secondly, this methodological nationalism obscures the long-standing impact of the Cold War as an eminently influential political context to the international development of the discipline since 1945. Therefore, a reappraisal of the conditions under which the discipline developed during the Cold War is required as they continue to influence European Ethnology today.
This research gap is the focus of our project. Analyzing East and West-German Volkskunde respectively is an excellent object of research, as it promises obtaining significant knowledge concerning the internationalization processes of European Ethnology after 1945 – above all because it was an important point of intersection to the ideological system rivalry during the Cold War. As a representative example, the project will focus on the development of transnational scholarships between 1945 and 1970. It aims to investigate the influence of the conceptual East-West bias on transnational activities of European Ethnology in processes of theory production and the standardization of ethnological and anthropological concepts.
Furthermore we will examine the cultural and socio-political determinations of specific practices of knowledge production and the interplay of networks, organizations and institutions. Uncovering persistent structures of transnational knowledge production could positively stimulate new approaches for future international cooperation.
In order to be able to integrate all country-specific scientific cultures involved in the dynamics of internationalization, these processes should ideally be investigated using diverse perspectives. Therefore we are looking for European colleagues who are working on similar issues for their particular country. We are very interested in an exchange about the respective national conditions and developments in our discipline during the Cold War.