Scholars in the Armchair, Knowledge on the Move: Agents and Contexts of the Appearance of Global Ethnography/Anthropology in Hungary, 1760-1830
(Institute of Ethnology Hungarian Academy of Sciences Research Centre for the Humanities)
Paper short abstract:
The paper examines the appearance of anthropological knowledge in the Kingdom of Hungary between 1760-1830. Focusing on its agents and media, it intends to throw light on the particular cultural/political contexts in which it was embedded in that 'peripheral' region of the Austrian Empire.
Paper long abstract:
The paper examines the period 1760-1830 during which global ethnography and anthropology emerged in Western Europe as well as in East-Central-Europe, including the Kingdom of Hungary. The history of the latter tradition is less known and has not become part of mainstream histories of anthropology. The author bases the analysis on her exploration carried out in archives and libraries in Budapest: the Library of Loránd Eötvös University, being a successor of the library of a Jesuit academy founded in 1635 in Nagyszombat/Trnava (today's Slovakia); the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, founded in 1826 as a learned society; and the National Széchényi Library, containing an abundant collection of rare books from private and community holdings. Between 1760 and 1830, three important agents seem to work on global anthropology including ethnography in Hungary: Jesuit missionaries educated in Nagyszombat/Trnava, Lutheran scholars in Pozsony/Bratislava, and preachers serving the Reformed church of Hungary. Apart from the work of the missionaries, and considering that the Austrian Empire did not have any overseas colonies, global anthropology appeared there not only as the result of translation, but also as a product of local appropriation. Focusing on the media (books of geography and natural history, engraved images in them) and the agents (pastors, missionaries, surgeons) of the distribution of anthropological knowledge in late Enlightenment - early Romanticism Hungary, the author analyses the local cultural and political contexts in which this knowledge was embedded.
'Peripheral' anthropologies of Europe. Their histories and intellectual genealogies [Europeanist network]