Before Boas: The Genesis of Ethnography and Ethnology in the German Enlightenment
The history of anthropology has been written from multiple viewpoints, often from perspectives of gender, nationality, theory, or politics. Before Boas delves deeper into issues concerning anthropology’s academic origins to present a groundbreaking study that reveals how ethnography and ethnology originated during the eighteenth rather than the nineteenth century, developing parallel to anthropology, or the “natural history of man.”
Han F. Vermeulen explores primary and secondary sources from Russia, Germany, Austria, the United States, the Netherlands, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, France, and Great Britain in tracing how “ethnography” originated as field research by German-speaking historians and naturalists in Siberia (Russia) during the 1730s and 1740s, was generalized as “ethnology” by scholars in Göttingen (Germany) and Vienna (Austria) during the 1770s and 1780s, and was subsequently adopted by researchers in other countries.
Before Boas argues that anthropology and ethnology were separate sciences during the Age of Reason, studying racial and ethnic diversity, respectively. Ethnography and ethnology focused not on “other” cultures but on all peoples of all eras. Following G. W. Leibniz, researchers in these fields categorized peoples primarily according to their languages. Franz Boas professionalized the holistic study of anthropology from the 1880s into the twentieth century.
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2 Theory and Practice
3 Enlightenment and Pietism
4 Ethnography and Empire
6 From the Field to the Study
7 Anthropology in the German Enlightenment
5 Anthropology and the Orient
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Academy of Sciences academy’s Allgemeine American anthro anthropology Arabia Expedition Arabic Asia Berlin Beschreibung Blumenbach Boas Buffon chapter collections colonial culture developed edition Ehrmann eighteenth century Enlightenment essay ethnic ethnographisch ethnography ethnography and ethnology ethnology Europe European expedition’s exploration Fischer France French Gatterer gentium geography Georg Forster Gerhard Friedrich Müller German Geschichte Gmelin Göttingen Halle Herder Hintzsche historian history of Siberia human humankind included instructions J. D. Michaelis Johann journal Kant Kollár Kunstkamera l’homme languages Leibniz Leipzig linguistic Linnaeus manners and customs manuscript Messerschmidt Michaelis Michaelis’s Mül Müller Museum nations natural history Niebuhr origins Paris Peter Petersburg philosophical ples political pology published races Russian Empire Schlözer scholarly scholars scientific Second Kamchatka Expedition Siberia Society Stagl Steller Strahlenberg Tatar Tatishchev term tion Tobolsk translation travel accounts tsar University University of Göttingen University of Halle Völker Völker-Beschreibung Völkerkunde Volkskunde Witsen