Brooke Penaloza Patzak

Geistes-, Sozial, und Kulturwissenschaften
Instituting Anthropology: The Circulation of Scientists and Ethnographic Materials Between North America, Germany and Austria, 1883-1933
Geschichte, material culture
Universität Wien
01.03.2014 - 01.03.2017
scientific networks, circulation, material culture, cultural anthropology, migration

The objective of this project is to examine the impact of the circulation of, and exchanges with, German-speaking scientists on the practice and institutionalization of American cultural anthropology in the museological and academic contexts. Research will focus on migrants, their networks and the circulation of ethnographic materials to explore the dynamics of social and cultural continuity or change through analysis of the circulation of scientists and ethnographic collections. The project’s premise is that the circulation of scientists and that of ethnographic objects are of comparable utility for interpreting the development and institutionalization of the field. To this end, the project has a double focus, first: scientists active in North America, Germany, and Austria from 1873-1933, and second: two major Northwest Coast ethnographic collections that have circulated between the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), New York, the Museum für Völkerkunde (now the Ethnologisches Museum der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin), Berlin, and the Naturhistorisches Museum/Museum für Völkerkunde (now Weltmuseum), Vienna.
The main goals of this project are: (1) to identify scientists, networks, and object circulations that linked the natural history museums in Berlin and Vienna with the AMNH; (2) to demonstrate the function of these networks in relation to the emergence of a new type of scientific methodology; and (3) to discuss the circulation of ethnographic objects within these networks as indicators of methodological exchange and institutionalization. The study will give particular attention to the development of anthropological methodology, practice and institutionalization as culturally contingent processes shaped by the interests and exchanges affected by the scientists involved.
The project draws upon scientific collections and publications from the above named institutions in order to establish their function as tools for the analysis of intercultural transfer in the museological and academic spheres, to determine the sociopolitical and professional agendas of migrant social scientists and their American supporters, and to analyze the role of exchange networks in effecting scientific change and/or continuity. Research builds upon a transdisciplinary body of work that includes writings by historians of science, anthropology and migra-tion, as well as work by museologists and anthropologists on the histories of their disciplines. The project will make significant contributions to history of science, migration studies and material culture studies, and serve as a vehicle for their interdisciplinary convergence. The project will also expand the field of migration studies in the history of science in two critical directions: first, by concentrating on scientists active during the period of 1873-1933, and secondly, by emphasizing the utility of objects of material culture as historical documents of scientific net-works, exchange and circulation.