The Ethnographic Department of the Gothenburg Museum and the establishment of International Americanist Ethnology
(University of São Paulo)
Paper short abstract:
This paper aims to investigate the role of the ethnographic department of the Gothenburg Museum in the establishment of international Americanist science during the administration of its director Erland Nordenskiöld (1877-1932).
Paper long abstract:
When the Swedish ethnologist Nils Erland Herbert Nordenskiöld (1877-1932) became head of the ethnographic department of the Gothenburg Museum (Sweden) in 1913, this institution focused mainly on botanical and zoological collections. By purchasing numerous collections, especially from the Americas, by bringing to the museum collections Nordenskiöld gathered during his five expeditions to South America, as well as by reorganizing museum exhibitions, the ethnographic department of Gothenburg was considered a model for other ethnographic museums at the time of his death. The Gothenburg Museum financed numerous ethnological expeditions and archaeological excavations in Brazil. Nordenskiöld's ethnological, linguistic and archaeological studies were highly estimated by foreign colleagues such as Theodor Koch-Grünberg, Franz Boas and Paul Rivet. He used to do lecture tours through Germany and France, and many of his articles and books were translated into German. Nordenskiöld was a key figure in the organization of the International Congress of Americanists, which took place in The Hague (Netherlands) and Gothenburg in 1924. This paper aims to explore the central role of Nordenskiöld and the ethnographic department of the Gothenburg Museum in establishing an international network of Americanists by analyzing documents held in archives in Germany and Sweden. I argue that ethnologists from peripheral anthropological traditions made important contributions to the establishment of anthropology as a science by forming an international network of scientists and by producing vital ethnographic knowledge, which remains important today.
The role of learned societies and associations in the creation and building of European anthropology [History of Anthropology Network]