HAR is pleased to announce one of the latest releases from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article, in English, on German ethnographer and collector Wilhelm Joest.
Deußen, Carl, 2022. “An Obscure Forschungsreisender ? Wilhelm Joest and the Shaping of Ethnology in Late 19th Century Germany”, in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.
Born in Cologne as the eldest son of a family of wealthy Protestant sugar merchants, German ethnographer and collector Wilhelm Joest (1852–1896) started his career with an extensive collecting journey through Asia (1879–1881). A disciple of Adolf Bastian (1826–1905), who supervised his doctoral thesis on the Gorontalo or Hulontalo language spoken in Indonesia by the Gorontalo people, Joest published his first scientific articles in the Zeitschrift für Ethnologie in 1892. These publications and his travelogues, together with his strategic donating of artefacts to various German ethnographic museums, quickly earned Joest a reputation. He went on two more expeditions, to Southern Africa (1883–1884) and to the Guianas (1890), published his main work Tätowiren, Narbenzeichnen und Körperbemalen (Tattooing, Ornamental Scars and Bodypainting) in 1887 and, finally, received his titular professorship in 1890. After his death, his collection fell to his sister Adele Rautenstrauch (1850–1903), an influential patron and benefactor who lobbied for the creation of an ethnographic museum in their hometown of Cologne. The Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum opened in 1906. This path-breaking article on a forgotten figure in disciplinary history traces Joest’s introduction into Völkerkunde as an avid collector of ethnographic artefacts on a global scale, as well as his career as a scholar and travel writer. It highlights Joest’s ideal of the Forschungsreisender, or traveller-scientist, and how this methodology influenced his understanding of racialised Others within an imperial context. Joest excelled in travelogues geared towards larger audiences, which became his most influential writing. Carl Deußen argues that although Joest did not have a marked theoretical influence on the development of German ethnology, his contribution was still crucial to the emergence of the discipline in the late 19th century.