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Cultural and Social Anthropology

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Sarreiter Regina


Research associate at Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient

Phone: 0049 30 80307153

E-Mail: Regina.Sarreiter@zmo.de

Project: "Die epistemischen Leben einer ethnologischen Sammlung zwischen Südafrika, Deutschland und Tansania"


The project investigates how scientific knowledge influences the practice of ethnological collecting and the handling of resulting collections. Assuming that collections always imply a connection of people, locations and objects besides their material existence, the project approaches arising questions by focusing on the relations of all above-mentioned agents to each other. The starting point of this research is the anthropological studies of Benedictine and ethnologist Father Meinulf Küsters in South Africa and Tanzania in the 1920s. Küsters who sometimes worked on behalf of the congregation of his mission and likewise as assistant for the museum of ethnology in Munich built an ample collection of phonographic recordings, artefacts, photographs, movies and ethnological field notes that all should serve as ethnographic insights on colonized societies and as legitimization of the mission. His various activities are reflected in the spatial distribution of the collectibles as well as in their careers and show an obvious difference in their meaning and value. The project investigates how such differences come into existence and is interested in how, why and when the collected materials turn or turn not into objects of knowledge. Temporality, locality and the intention behind collecting and keeping are taken into consideration as well as the subjectivity of the ones involved – people and objects – in the colonial project. Following the ways and movements of this specific anthropologic attempt as well as the traces of the agents involved, the project aims to portray the translocal web of relationships connecting all persons, institutions, scientific networks and objects that have a share in it. The aim of the project is to contribute to an altered perspective on ethnological collecting and keeping as well as to the production of knowledge.

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