EASA, 2006: EASA06: Europe and the world

Bristol, UK, 18/09/2006 – 21/09/2006


Early European women anthropologists

Location Biol B74
Date and Start Time 19 Sep, 2006 at 11:30


Grazyna Kubica-Heller (Jagiellonian University) email
Ulla Vuorela (University of Tampere) email
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Short Abstract

Continuing the discussion about how women entered the anthropological project at the beginning of the 20th century and later saw important problems of their time, and how their personal experience intervened in their perception of the tasks of anthropology.

Long Abstract

The workshop will be the continuation of a meeting at the last conference. We would like to continue the discussion about how women entered the anthropological project at the beginning of the 20th century and later saw important problems of their time -- racism, colonialism, etc -- and how their personal experience intervened in their perception of the tasks of anthropology. Another important theme would be their notion of womanhood and how this was shaped by their fieldwork experiences, and vice versa, how being anthropologists created their profile as women. We would like to learn about their biographies and careers, what it was to be a woman entering fieldwork and academia. Finally, we would like to find out whether their experiences and writings are connected with our own problems and approaches. What do we learn from them, about perceiving the world and our role as women and as anthropologists? Are there any common traits we can draw together?


A princess in South America

Author: Beatrice Kümin (Ethnographic Museum, Zurich)  email
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Long Abstract

It was very uncommon for a lady of the late 19th century to be interested in academic fields and it was even more extraordinary to do ethnographic expeditions. The German Princess Therese of Bayern (1850-1925) travelled for that purpose (incognito and with only three servants) in 1898 to South America. The Princess and her fieldwork give an interesting example for «female anthropology» in various regards, which shall be explored in this paper.

Amalie Kozminova

Author: Helena Berankova (Moravian Museum)  email
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Long Abstract

Amalie Kozminova (1876 - 1951), born in an intellectual family in Southwest Bohemia, and aducated in a teacher´s institute, started her professional career as a teacher of women works. From the anthropological point of view, her educational mission in Carpathian Ruthenia, in 1918, is important: her field reserch was made to order of the Czechoslovak government and fruits of it was published in the monograph of Carpathian Ruthenia. Amalie Kozminova was also one of the first women that used a photographic camera in the field to document everyday and festive culture in this region, that had been only a few weeks before annexed to the newly established Czechoslovak Republic, and that was considered exotic in many ways. The paper is to appreciate the pioneer work of Amalie Kozminova made in those post-war, very difficult and even dangerous condittions.

Marianne Schmidl (1890-1942)

Author: Katja Geisenhainer  email
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Long Abstract

The anthropologist Marianne Schmidl was born in 1890 in Berchtesgaden/Germany. She was disadvantaged in the scientific community for two reasons: she was a woman and many of her ancestors were Jewish. She grew up in Vienna, attended a progressive school and studied first mathematics then ethnology. Her teachers were amongst others Michael Haberland, Rudolf Pöch and Moritz Hoernes. In addition she was constantly in contact with the exponents of the Viennese School of Cultural History. In 1915 Schmidl was the first woman in Austria who receive a doctorate in ethnology. To this day her dissertation about number systems in Africa is an important ethnomathematical survey. After her graduation Schmidl worked in German museums (Berlin, Weimar, Stuttgart) for several years. Regardless of all that and despite positive evaluations from leading ethnologists of the time, she was unable to find a job in an ethnological institution. Therefore she had to continue her ethnological studies besides working for the National Library in Vienna, where she was a member of the permanent staff until 1938. Schmidl, who did not marry or have children of her own, spent almost all her free time travelling for her studies. She wrote articles about the Schopen in Bulgaria and about the history of Africa. However, her main interest was basket-making in Africa. She started these studies in Berlin in 1916 and received financial support from the "Staatlich-Saechsisches Forschungsinstitut fuer Voelkerkunde" from 1926 onwards. In 1939 the director of this research institute forced Schmidl to hand in her unfinished manuscript so she was not able to complete this work before her deportation and death in 1942.

The paper will deliver insights in how Schmidl tried to find her place in the scientific community as a woman with Jewish ancestors, positioned between the Viennese School of Cultural History and their opponents, and without a permanent position at the university or the museum.

The rule of women in Croatian ethnology: Marijana Gušić between politics and profession

Author: Sanja Potkonjak (University of Zagreb)  email
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Long Abstract

In the wake of Croatian ethnology there were few women who obtained institutional power, had professional devotion to the discipline, and immense influence on the transformation of a men-only into a women-predominated discipline. One of them was Marija Gušić (1901-1987), whose work is inseparable from coming off age of Croatian ethnology, and who truly deserves to be considered as one of the "mothers of ethnology". After finishing university, and joining antifascist movement, she was the first woman who became the director of the Ethnographic Museum in Zagreb, and, later on, a head of the Department of Ethnology at the Croatian Academy of Sciences. Her career was speeded up by her political wisdom, by Masonry of her husband, professional coquetry with communism and, last but not least, high working standards.

Marijana Gušić is widely thought to be the first ethnographer who introduced the story of transgender phenomenon of the Balkan, that of Virgine, into the Croatian ethnographic literature. In succeeding years, her work moved to the research of ethnic clothing and church textile, praising the "women who for centuries preserved their narration of self - by weaving it into the body of textile. " And finally, she should be thought of as a museum scientist. Her post-revolutionary political or professional excursion to the socialist everyday life, which led her into the episode of communicating socialist reality to average museum consumer, offers us a possibility to look at her in terms of communist context. By establishing the first open-air museum, which praised the president Tito's - birthplace, and by making a memorial building out of his birth house, Marijana Gušić merged together the preservation of rural environment and the invention of political places in socialist cultures. Marijana Gušić's professional path is both showing her disciplinary maturing, and reflects political and professional agendas which intersected Croatian ethnology during the twentieth century.