Early Modern Anthropologies: Observing, Describing, Professing Nature and Science

PhD Mandatory Elective
Course Description: 

The course intends to discuss the early modern ways of observing the world by looking at certain accounts such as travelogues, histories, diaries, manuals, and by involving visual documentation, too. By using such sensitive source materials, it examines the contemporary “fieldworkers'” approach and perspective, their methods of describing nature, customs, people, and offering a scientific interpretation according to either the “tradition” or new ways of professing an early modern type of ethnography. The search for curiosity and the scientific experimenting – either in laboratories, in a pharmacy or in a museo, or in the field –, and the necessity of recording and publishing the results relied on a new educated interest that shifted away from the commentary of ancient cultures and traditions of written authority toward the discussion of direct observation, empiricism and new theories. This transition was facilitated by movements of people and exchange of books and texts, and contributed to the professing of a new type disciplinary focus and methodology. Besides the themes such as discovery, conquest, captivity, possession or appropriation, the cultural and scholarly practices will be discussed as they shaped methods and precision towards a refined understanding and presentation of “others,” the “human condition,” behavioral patterns, or the operation of the universe itself

Learning Outcomes: 

The course develops a comprehensive and critical understanding of ethnographic/
anthropological/history-writing/cartographic sources and practices within early modern contexts. It also provides familiarity with current research in the field of the history of science, and elaborates a range of historical and anthropological approaches and analysis.