Accepted Paper:

has pdf download Indigenous drawings as "cultural fossil guides": an archaeological comparative study on the evolution of the human mind  

Author:

Diego Ballestero (Universit├Ąt Bonn)

Paper short abstract:

I examine a study on Argentinean indigenous drawings conducted by the German anthropologist Robert Lehmann-Nitsche in 1906 and his intention to collaborate with German anthropological research aiming to construct a global comparative cartography of the evolution of the human mind

Paper long abstract:

In the second half of the 19th century, scholars from different disciplines studied non-European people's culture as a means to understand the origin and evolution of Western civilization and postulated the psychic unity of mankind. This approach of cultural universalism and unilineal evolutionism echoed an older model based on the analogy between the growth of the individual and the development of mankind whereby the ontogeny of the individual organism recapitulates the phylogeny of the whole series.

The drawings, regarded as "cultural fossil guides" that embody and indicate the mental shift of an epoch, offered the scholars an empirical and material mean to carry out their research related to comparative psychology, ethnographic parallels and history of art. Consequently, since 1880 mostly German scholars began to collect and compare drawings from European children and non-European peoples for their research aiming to construct a global comparative cartography of the evolution of human mind.

I examine the research conducted by the German anthropologist Robert Lehmann-Nitsche (1872-1938) who, in 1898, collected drawings made by a group of indigenous people from Southern Argentina. Based on this particular case I aim to investigate how instruments and methodological approaches were employed to transform the drawings into study objects of cultural history. Furthermore I examine strategies put into practice to acquire the drawings, the different actors who developed this research in Argentina towards the end of the 19th century as well as the influence of the theoretical frameworks developed in Germany.

Panel P060
Themes in the history of anthropology and ethnology in Europe [Europeanist network]