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Anthropology and Antihumanism in Imperial Germany

With the rise of imperialism, the centuries-old European tradition of humanist scholarship as the key to understanding the world was jeopardized. Nowhere was this more true than in nineteenth-century Germany. It was there, Andrew Zimmerman argues, that the battle lines of today’s "culture wars" were first drawn when anthropology challenged humanism as a basis for human scientific knowledge.

Drawing on sources ranging from scientific papers and government correspondence to photographs, pamphlets, and police reports of "freak shows," Zimmerman demonstrates how German imperialism opened the door to antihumanism. As Germans interacted more frequently with peoples and objects from far-flung cultures, they were forced to reevaluate not just those peoples, but also the construction of German identity itself. Anthropologists successfully argued that their discipline addressed these issues more productively—and more accessibly—than humanistic studies.

Scholars of anthropology, European and intellectual history, museum studies, the history of science, popular culture, and colonial studies will welcome this book.

372 pages | 52 halftones, 21 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2001

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

History: European History

History of Science

Sociology: General Sociology

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Part I
1. Exotic Spectacles and the Global Context of German Anthropology
2. Kultur and Kulturkampf: The Studia Humanitas and the People without History
3. Nature and the Boundaries of the Human: Monkeys, Monsters, and Natural Peoples
4. Measuring Skulls: The Social Role of the Antihumanist
Part II
5. A German Republic of Science and a German Idea of Truth: Empiricism and Sociability in Anthropology
6. Anthropological Patriotism: The Schulstatistik and the Racial Composition of Germany
Part III
7. The Secret of Primitive Accumulation: The Political Economy of Anthropological Objects
8. Commodities, Curiosities, and the Display of Anthropological Objects in the Berlin Museum of Ethnology
Part IV
9. History without Humanism: Culture-Historical Anthropology and the Triumph of the Museum
10. Colonialism and the Limits of the Human: The Failure of Fieldwork

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