Beyond the Mainstream

Max Schmidt’s Research on "The Arawak" in the Context of Contemporary German Ethnology

  • Michael Kraus University of Göttingen


Analyzing the work of Max Schmidt (1874-1950), especially his 1917 book Die Aruaken. Ein Beitrag zum Problem der Kulturverbreitung [The Arawak: A Contribution to the Problem of Cultural Dissemination], this article deals with methodological and theoretical trends among German ethnologists carrying out expeditions in the Amazon region at the turn of the nineteenth century. The approaches outlined are placed in the context of the institutionalisation of ethnology as a separate academic discipline in Germany. The focus is on the development of modern fieldwork methods; the critique of diffusionism by Schmidt and other South America researchers; and the specific approaches of Max Schmidt who, in spite of the contemporary emphasis on "material" and "intellectual" culture, also considered sociological issues in his analysis.


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Kraus, Michael. 2019. Beyond the Mainstream. Revista De Antropologia 62 (1), 162-91.
Special Issue - German-Speaking Anthropologists in Latin-America, 1884-1945