Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Apes, skulls and drums: using images to make ethnographic knowledge in imperial Germany

  • MARISSA H. PETROU (a1)
Abstract

In this paper, I discuss the development and use of images employed by the Dresden Royal Museum for Zoology, Anthropology and Ethnography to resolve debates about how to use visual representation as a means of making ethnographic knowledge. Through experimentation with techniques of visual representation, the founding director, A.B. Meyer (1840–1911), proposed a historical, non-essentialist approach to understanding racial and cultural difference. Director Meyer's approach was inspired by the new knowledge he had gained through field research in Asia-Pacific as well as new forms of imaging that made highly detailed representations of objects possible. Through a combination of various techniques, he developed new visual methods that emphasized intimate familiarity with variations within any one ethnic group, from skull shape to material ornamentation, as integral to the new disciplines of physical and cultural anthropology. It is well known that photographs were a favoured form of visual documentation among the anthropological and ethnographic sciences at the fin de siècle. However, in the scholarly journals of the Dresden museum, photographs, drawings, tables and etchings were frequently displayed alongside one another. Meyer sought to train the reader's eye through organized arrangements that represented objects from multiple angles and at various levels of magnification. Focusing on chimpanzees, skulls and kettledrums from Asia-Pacific, I track the development of new modes of making and reading images, from zoology and physical anthropology to ethnography, to demonstrate how the museum visually historicized humankind.

Copyright
References
Hide All

1 See Hopwood, Nick, Haeckel's Embryos: Images, Evolution and Fraud, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2015 ; Brain, Robert Michael, The Pulse of Modernism: Physiological Aesthetics in Fin-de-Siècle Europe, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015, pp. 3762 ; Morton, Marsha, ‘From Monera to Man: Ernst Haeckel, Darwinismus and nineteenth-century German art’, in Larson, Barbara and Brauer, Fae (eds.), The Art of Evolution: Darwin, Darwinisms, and Visual Culture, Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College Press, 2009, pp. 5991 ; Richards, Robert, The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008 ; Engels, Eve-Marie, Glick, Thomas F. and Darwin, Charles, The Reception of Charles Darwin in Europe, London: Continuum, 2008 ; Breidbach, Olaf, Visions of Nature: The Art and Science of Ernst Haeckel, Munich: Prestel, 2006 ; Breidbach, Olaf and Haeckel, Ernst H.P.A., Art Forms from the Ocean: The Radiolarian Prints of Ernst Haeckel, Munich: Prestel, 2005 ; and Kockerbeck, Christopher, Ernst Haeckel's ‘Kunstformen der Natur’ und ihre Einfluss auf die deutsche bildende Kunst der Jahrhundertwende, Munich: Peter Lang, 1986 .

2 This is striking given that, in addition to zoologists, German anatomists and embryologists had eagerly accepted Charles Darwin's Origin of Species and the majority of German anthropologists were trained in medicine. See Nyhart, Lynn, Biology Takes Form: Animal Morphology and the German Universities, 1800–1900, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994 ; and Weindling, Paul, Health, Race, and German Politics between National Unification and Nazism, 1870–1945, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993 . A.B. Meyer corresponded directly with Darwin after he completed his doctorate and while he prepared for his field research. Much of this correspondence centred around Meyer's translation and publication of Darwin and Wallace's 1858 essays on the theory of natural selection. Though there were many brands of Darwinism circulating Germany in the second half of the nineteenth century, Meyer went directly to the source. He did agree with Haeckel that anthropology must be connected to zoology. On Darwinism in Germany see Gliboff, Sander, H.G. Bronn, Ernst Haeckel, and the Origins of German Darwinism: A Study in Translation and Transformation, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008 ; Engels, Glick and Darwin, op. cit. (1); and Richards, op. cit. (1).

3 A.B. Meyer to General Direction der Königlichen Sammlungen für Kunst und Wissenschaft, 19 November 1874, Ministerium des Kultus und öffentlichen Unterrichts, Sächsische Hauptstaatsarchiv, Dresden (hereafter SHStAD), Band 19283. Lynn Nyhart and Andreas Daum have pointed out that we must look beyond the power of the university-state model of nineteenth-century German science. See Nyhart, op. cit. (2); and Daum, Andreas W., Wissenschaftspopularisierung im 19. Jahrhundert: Bürgerliche Kultur, naturwissenschaftliche Bildung und die deutsche Öffentlichkeit, 1848–1914, Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1998 .

4 The centrality of Meyer's publications to his work and to this essay participates in a broader discussion in history-of-science studies attentive to the importance of scientific publications as primary sources. Analysis of Meyer's publications indicates that he identified a connection between publishing formats and certain ways of understanding and presenting the natural world. Meyer's attention to the publication process as a form of knowledge production coincides with the work of physiologists and palaeontologists who developed genres of writing together with scientific theories. See Dawson, Gowan, ‘Paleontology in parts’, Isis (2012) 103, pp. 637667 ; Broman, Thomas, ‘J.C. Reil and the “journalization” of science’, in Dear, Peter (ed.), The Literary Structure of Scientific Argument: Historical Studies, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991, pp. 1342 ; Hopwood, Nick, Schaffer, Simon and Secord, Jim, ‘Seriality and scientific objects in the nineteenth century’, History of Science (2010) 48, pp. 251285 .

5 Key works in the history of German anthropology include Manfred Gothsch, Deutsche Völkerkunde und ihr Verhältnis zum Kolonialismus: Ein Beitrag zur kolonialideologischen und kolonialpraktischen Bedeutung der deutschen Völkerkunde in der Zeit von 1870 bis 1975, Baden-Baden: Nomos, 1983; Weindling, op. cit. (2); Smith, Woodruff D., Politics and the Sciences of Culture in Germany, 1840–1920, New York: Oxford University Press, 1991 ; Stocking, George W. (ed.), Volksgeist as Method and Ethic: Essays on Boasian Ethnography and the German Anthropological Tradition, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996 ; Zimmerman, Andrew, Anthropology and Antihumanism in Imperial Germany, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2001 ; Penny, H. Glenn, Objects of Culture: Ethnology and Ethnographic Museums in Imperial Germany, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002 ; Zammito, John H., Kant, Herder, and the Birth of Anthropology, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002 ; Penny, H. Glenn and Bunzl, Matti (eds.), Worldly Provincialism: German Anthropology in the Age of Empire, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003 ; Gingrich, Andre, ‘The German-speaking countries’, in Barth, Fredrik, Gingrich, Andre, Parkin, Robert and Silverman, Sydel (eds.), One Discipline, Four Ways: British, German, French, and American Anthropology, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2005, pp. 61156 ; Buschmann, Rainer F., Anthropology's Global Histories: The Ethnographic Frontier in German New Guinea, 1870–1935, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2009 ; Evans, Andrew D., Anthropology at War: World War I and the Science of Race in Germany, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010 ; and Vermeulen, Han F., Before Boas: The Genesis of Ethnography and Ethnology in the German Enlightenment, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2015 .

6 As Josh Ellenbogen, Jennifer Tucker, Alan Sekula and Steve Edwards have argued, this period of the nineteenth century marked a turning point in the use of photography in the sciences. The two best-known examples are Bertillon and Galton, who both worked with photography to create visual standards for revealing invisible information.

7 Andrew Zimmerman, Benoit Massin and Hilary Susan Howes have written about the enormous power wielded by Rudolf Virchow, who suppressed open support of biological evolution within the goals of the German Anthropological Society. See Howes, Hilary Susan, The Race Question in Oceania: A.B. Meyer and Otto Finsch between Metropolitan Theory and Field Experience, 1865–1914, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2013 ; Zimmerman, op. cit. (5); and Benoit Massin, ‘From Virchow to Fischer: physical anthropology and modern race theories’, in Stocking, op. cit. (5), pp. 79–154.

8 See Voss, Julia, Darwin's Pictures: Views of Evolutionary Theory, 1837–1874, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010 .

9 As Julia Voss and Nick Hopwood have demonstrated, Darwin's images were different to those of his most popular German supporter, Ernst Haeckel, and their different images present different evolutionary theories: the former are random and the latter are purposive. Meyer was also a published translator of Darwin's thesis of natural selection and Meyer never referenced Haeckel. See Hopwood, op. cit. (1); and Voss, op. cit. (8). For an alternative reading of Darwin's images and Haeckel's visual interpretation of Darwinian evolution see Bredekamp, Horst, Darwins Korallen: Die Frühen Evolutionsdiagramme und die Tradition der Naturgeschichte, Berlin: Wagenbach, 2005 .

10 Review of Meyer, A.B. (ed.), Mittheilung aus dem Königlichen zoologischen Museum zu Dresden, Nature (1876) 13, p. 464.

11 Meyer, A.B., ‘Notizen über die Anthropomorphen Affen des Dresdner Museums’, Mittheilung aus dem Königlichen zoologischen Museum zu Dresden (1877) 2, pp. 223247 , 238. For debates on the matter of Mafoka's classification see Notes’, Nature (1875) 12, p. 482; and Meyer, A.B., ‘The Dresden “gorilla”’, Nature (1875) 13, p. 106.

12 Huxley, T.H., Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature, New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1873 ; Darwin, Charles, The Descent of Man: And Selection in Relation to Sex, London: John Murray, 1874 ; and Meyer, A.B., ‘Krao, sowie Namegebung und Titel bei den Siamesen’, Zeitschrift für Ethnologie (1885) 17, pp. 516518 . See also Nestawal, Stephanie, Monstrosität, Malformation, Mutation: Von Mythologie zu Pathologie, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2010 .

13 Meyer, ‘Notizen über die anthropomorphen Affen’, op. cit. (11), p. 234.

14 Meyer, ‘Notizen über die anthropomorphen Affen’, op. cit. (11), p. 234.

15 See du Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Isidore, ‘Description des mammifères nouveaux ou imparfaitement connus quatrième mémoire, famille des singes, second supplément’, Archives du Muséum d'histoire naturelle (1858–1861) 10, Plate I, foll. p. 460. On the stances of taxidermic gorilla mounts see Nyhart, Lynn K., ‘Lost and found: life after death: the gorilla family of the Senckenberg Museum (Frankfurt/Main)’, Endeavour (2013) 37, pp. 235238 .

16 Führer durch das Königliche zoologische Museum zu Dresden, Dresden: B.G. Teubner, 1881, p. 7.

17 On nineteenth-century natural-history museum displays see Haraway, Donna J., Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science, New York: Routledge, 1989 ; Yanni, Carla, Nature's Museums: Victorian Science and the Architecture of Display, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999 ; Köstering, Susanne, Natur zum Anschauen: Das Naturkundemuseum des deutschen Kaiserreichs 1871–1914, Cologne: Böhlau, 2003 ; Nyhart, Lynn K., Modern Nature: The Rise of the Biological Perspective in Germany, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009 ; Alberti, Samuel J.M.M., Nature and Culture: Objects, Disciplines and the Manchester Museum, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009 ; Cain, Victoria E.M.“The direct medium of the vision”: visual education, virtual witnessing and the prehistoric past at the American Museum of Natural History, 1890–1923’, Journal of Visual Culture (2010) 9, pp. 284303 ; Alberti, Samuel J.M.M., The Afterlives of Animals: A Museum Menagerie, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011 ; and Eskildsen, Kasper Risbjerg, ‘The language of objects: Christian Jürgensen Thomsen's science of the past’, Isis (2012) 103, pp. 2453 .

18 Meyer, ‘Notizen über die anthropomorphen Affen’, op. cit. (11), p. 234.

19 The Picture Gallery also took advantage of this on occasion. See Gems of the Dresden Gallery: Comprising the Most Famous and Popular Works in the Dresden Collection, Reproduced in Heliotype from the Best Engravings; with Notices of the Works and the Artists, Boston: J.R. Osgood, 1877 .

20 For more on artists’ visual considerations of progressive human perfection through portraits of apes see Morton, op. cit. (1).

21 Hartmann, Robert, Die menschenähnlichen Affen, Berlin: Habel, 1876, pp. 201204 . The explorer and gorilla hunter Hugo von Koppenfels argued that Mafoka was a chimpanzee–gorilla hybrid and sent skulls from Africa to Meyer which he thought supported the existence of this classification.

22 Virchow, Rudolf et al. , ‘Sitzung vom 20 Nov 1875’, Zeitschrift für Ethnologie (1875) 7, pp. 231267 . Hartmann agreed with Huxley that humans and apes were closely related. In 1859–1860 Hartmann went on an exploratory mission to north-eastern Africa, which provided extensive material for his subsequent writings on black Africans and anthropoid apes. His publications also supported the widespread interest in the history of pile dwellings in central Europe and their current configurations among Naturv ö lker, or natural peoples, those who supposedly lacked culture and history. The first gorilla to be brought to Europe, M'pungu, would arrive in 1876 and find residence at the Berlin Aquarium.

23 Dawson, Gowan, Darwin, Literature and Victorian Respectability, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 6063 .

24 Nissle, Carl, ‘Beiträge zur Kenntniss der sogennanten anthropomorphen Affen: Die Dresdener Mafuka’, Zeitschrift für Ethnologie (1876) 8, pp. 4659, 50. Nissle included one plate of different views and positions of Mafoka, drawn after life and lithographed by Gustaf Muetzel. Muetzel was an artist, professional photographer and illustrator of numerous zoological, anthropological and ethnographic works, including some of Meyer's publications.

25 Hartmann, Robert, Die menschenähnlichen Affen und ihre Organisation im Vergleich zur Menschlichen, Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1883, pp. 90, 203, 223, 252254 ; and Nissle, op. cit. (24), pp. 54, 56–57.

26 On Darwin's argument that chimpanzees were less expressive than man and gorilla see Darwin, Charles, Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, London: John Murray, 1872 , especially the reproduced drawing of a chimpanzee, ‘disappointed and sulky’, on p. 144.

27 Meyer, ‘Notizen über die anthropomorphen Affen’, op. cit. (11), p. 237.

28 Hartmann, Robert, ‘Beiträge zur Kenntniss der sogenannten anthropomorphen Affen: Von einige Wort für Hrn Dr H. Bolau zu Hamburg’, Zeitschrift für Ethnologie (1877) 9, pp. 117128, 118.

29 Though zoologists were much concerned with specific taxonomic names, those involved in the debate over Mafoka continued to use the general term ‘nature’ in reference to what was at stake.

30 Meyer, A.B., ‘Den im Dresdener Zoologischer Garten verstorbenen Chimpanse, Sitzungsbericht 15 Juli 1876’, Zeitschrift für Ethnologie (1876) 8, pp. 158160, 159.

31 Meyer, op. cit. (30), p. 159.

32 Quoted in Meyer, op. cit. (30), p. 159.

33 Meyer, op. cit. (30), p. 159.

34 Meyer, op. cit. (30), p. 160.

35 Meyer, op. cit. (30), p. 159.

36 See Nyhart, op. cit. (17); and Köstering, op. cit. (17). Oliver Hochadel observes that most of the naturalists of the reform movement were Darwinians while the older generation held onto a static and ahistoric understanding of nature. See Hochadel, Oliver, ‘Watching exotic animals next door: ‘scientific’ observations at the zoo (ca. 1870–1910)’, Science in Context (2011) 24, pp. 183214, 186. This reform movement in US museums is addressed in Cain, Victoria E.M. and Rader, Karen, Life on Display: Revolutionizing U.S. Museums of Science and Natural History in the Twentieth Century, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2014 .

37 On dual arrangement see Winsor, Mary P., ‘Natural history museums’, in Bowler, P.J. and Pickstone, J. (eds.), The Cambridge History of Science, vol. 6, The Modern Biological and Earth Sciences, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp. 6075 ; and Nyhart, op. cit. (17), pp. 188–250.

38 See Köstering, Susanne, ‘Nature and gender in German natural history museums around 1900’, in Lekan, Thomas and Zeller, Thomas (eds.), Germany's Nature: Cultural Landscapes and Environmental History, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2005, pp. 140157, 141; Köstering, op. cit. (17), p. 109; and Nyhart op. cit. (17), pp. 225–226, 273.

39 See Meyer, Adolf B., Über museen des ostens der Vereinigten Staaten von Nord Amerika, Berlin: A. Friedländer & Sohn, 1901, p. 14.

40 See Broca, Paul, ‘Sur le volume et le forme du cerveau suivant les individus et suivant les races’, Bulletin Société d'anthropologie Paris (1861) 2, pp. 139207 ; Virchow, Rudolf, Über einige Merkmale niederer Menschenrassen am Schädel, Berlin: Buchdruckerei der Königl. Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1875 ; Zimmerman, Andrew, ‘Three logics of race: theory and exception in the transnational history of empire’, New Global Studies (2010) 4(1), pp. 409429, 417; Kühnast, Antje, ‘Racialising bones and humanity’, in Hund, Wulf D., Ritter, Sabine and Wigger, Iris (eds.), Racism and Modernity: Festschrift for Wulf D. Hund, Vienna: Lit, 2011, pp. 162178 .

41 Meyer, A.B., ‘Über 135 Papuan Schädeln von Neu Guinea und der Insel Mysore’, Mittheilung des Zoologisches Museum (1875) 1, pp. 5984, 62, 64. See also Meyer's collaborator in New Guinea, Richard Parkinson. Parkinson described Buka and Bougainville practices in which chiefs preserved the collected jaws in their houses: Parkinson, Richard and Ankermann, Bernhard, Dreissig Jahre in der Südsee: Land und Leute, Sitten und Gebräuche im Bismarckarchipel und auf den Deutschen Salomoinseln, Stuttgart: Strecker & Schröder, 1907, p. 486.

42 Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison have argued that scientists in this period were committed to mechanical objectivity and self-denial when producing images. For many, elements of mechanical objectivity were associated with the geometric projection when compared to the flat two-dimensional order of photographic images. This is quite unlike the examples presented by Daston and Galison on the preference for photographs in the production of scientific atlases. However, Meyer's considerations support Nick Hopwood's assessment of the Haeckel–His debate over the presentation of visual evidence: mechanical objectivity rhetoric was not prominent, nor the central issue. See Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, Objectivity, New York: Zone Books, 2007; and Hopwood, op. cit. (1), pp. 107, 124, 220. Omar W. Nasim's study of nineteenth-century astronomy examines other examples of expertise associated with drawing. See Nasim, Omar W., Observing by Hand: Sketching the Nebulae in the Nineteenth Century, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013 .

43 See Lucae, Johann C.G. and Baer, Karl E., Zur Morphologie der Rassen-Schädel: Einleitende Bemerkungen und Beiträge; ein Sendschreiben an Carl Ernst V. Baer, Frankfurt am Main: Brönner, 1861 .

44 von Baer, Karl and Wagner, Rudolph, Bericht über die Zusammenkunft einiger Anthropologen in September 1861 in Goettingen zum Zwecke gemeinsamer Besprechungen, Leipzig: Leopold Voss, 1861, p. 33.

45 von Baer, Karl E., ‘Über Papuas und Alfuren’, Memoires de l'Académie imperiale des sciences de St Petersbourg (1859) 6, pp. 338339 .

46 Meyer, A.B., ‘Über 135 Papuan Schädeln von Neu Guinea und der Insel Mysore, Fortsetzung’, Mittheilung des Zoologisches Museum (1877) 2, pp. 165222, 165.

47 Meyer, op. cit. (46), p. 216. This article immediately preceded his article on Mafoka in the journal's second issue.

48 Andrew Zimmerman has argued that anthropologists treated nature, and therefore their objects of study, as ahistorical, and that their very focus on objects was a practice of ahistoricization. See Zimmerman, op. cit. (5). On rethinking the role of objects in anthropological studies see Appadurai, Arjun, The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986 ; Thomas, Nicholas, Out of Time: History and Evolution in Anthropological Discourse, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989 ; Thomas, , Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture, and Colonialism in the Pacific, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991 ; Henare, Amiria J.M., Museums, Anthropology, and Imperial Exchange, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005 ; and Henare, Amiria J.M., Holbraad, Martin and Wastell, Sari (eds.), Thinking through Things: Theorising Artefacts Ethnographically, London: Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2007 .

49 Meyer explained that, based on his observations in New Guinea, the work of Papuan women was not so hard, such that, in the course of time, no männlichen Typus should emerge, ‘unlike the case with the women of our labouring classes’. Thus Meyer implied that identifying the sex of a skull depended on knowledge of the particular activities of the community in question and could not be universalized. See Meyer, op. cit. (46), p. 167.

50 Meyer, op. cit. (46), p. 167.

51 Meyer, A.B., ‘Über 135 Papuan Schädeln von Neu Guinea und der Insel Mysore, Fortsetzung’, Mittheilung des Zoologisches Museum (1878) 3, pp. 385411, 409.

52 Meyer, op. cit. (51), p. 409. Ernst Haeckel, like Meyer's colleagues in physical anthropology, preferred illustrations over photography to ‘render structures as they “really” are’. See Richards, op. cit. (1), p. 419.

53 Meyer, op. cit. (51), p. 411.

54 See, for example, the work of Herrmann Schaaffhausen and Massin, op. cit. (7).

55 See von Török, Aurel, Ueber ein Universal-Kraniometer: Zur Reform der kraniometrischen Methodik, Leipzig: Georg Thieme, 1888 .

56 Many of the agreed standardizations were those developed by Hermann von Ihering, which Meyer had also relied on for his studies. Central to this standardized methodology was the deutsche Horizontalebene (‘German horizontal’): a line running from above the ear hole to beneath the eye socket. See Kollmann, Julius, Ranke, Johannes and Virchow, Rudolf, ‘Verständigung über ein gemeinsames craniometrisches Verfahren’, Anthropologisches Archiv (1884) 15, pp. 18 . By signing the agreement, Meyer signalled his support of the German scientific community, if not its specific standards.

57 Virchow, Rudolf, ‘Über Negrito und Igorroten-Schädel von den Philippinen, Sitzungsbericht vom 15 Juni 1872’, Zeitschrift für Ethnologie (1872) 4, pp. 205209 . In the 1910s Franz Boas argued that if craniofacial features were so malleable in a single generation, then the cephalic index was of little use for defining race and mapping ancestral populations. The Malay archipelago was the area referred to by Alfred Russel Wallace, and other European travellers before him, to cover South East Asia and Oceania. This label assumed the dominance of the Malay race in the region.

58 See Bastian, Adolf, Die Voelker des ostlichen Asien 5: Reisen im Indischen Archipel, Jena: Constenoble, 1869 ; Quatrefages, Armand and Hamy, Ernest-Théodore, Crania ethnica: Les cranes des races humaines décrits et figurés, Paris: J.B. Baillière et fils, 1873 ; and Virchow, Rudolf, ‘Über einige Merkmale niederer Menschenrassen am Schädel und über die Anwendung der statistischen Methode in der ethnischen Craniologie’, Zeitschrift für Ethnologie (1880) 12, pp. 126 . Even though Meyer agreed with some of Virchow's arguments, such as the lack of connection between Negritos of Asia-Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa, he was critical of Virchow's limited use of empirical evidence.

59 Wallace, Alfred Russel, The Malay Archipelago, London: Macmillan and Co., 1872, p. 586. On Wallace's review of Meyer's field research in New Guinea see Wallace, Alfred R., ‘Meyer's exploration of New Guinea’, Nature (1873) 9, p. 102; and Howes, Hilary Susan, ‘Anglo-German anthropology in the Malay archipelago, 1869–1910: Adolf Bernhard Meyer, Alfred Russell Wallace and A.C. Haddon’, in Ellis, Heather and Kirchberger, Ulrike (eds.), Anglo-German Scholarly Networks in the Long Nineteenth Century, Leiden: Brill, 2014, pp. 126146 .

60 Meyer, op. cit. (51), p. 411; Meyer repeats this argument in Adolf Bernhard Meyer and Alexander Schadenberg, Die Philippinen II: Negritos, Dresden: Stengel & Markert, 1893; and Meyer, Adolf Bernhard, The Distribution of the Negritos in the Philippine Islands and Elsewhere, Dresden: Stengel & Co., 1899, esp. p. 78.

61 The two ethnologists were not only aware of each other's work, but also corresponded, and Franz Boas reviewed A.B. Meyer's The Distribution of the Negritos in the Philippine Islands and Elsewhere in American Anthropologist, the flagship journal of the American Anthropological Association.

62 Virchow, op. cit. (57).

63 Some key works on anthropological photographs include Theye, Thomas (ed.), Der geraubte Schatten: Photographie als ethnographsiches Dokument, Munich: Munchner Stadtmuseum, 1989 ; Edwards, Elizabeth (ed.), Anthropology and Photography, 1860–1920, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press in association with the Royal Anthropological Institute, London, 1992 ; Banks, Marcus and Morphy, Howard, Rethinking Visual Anthropology, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997 ; Pinney, Christopher, Camera Indica: The Social Life of Indian Photographs, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1997 ; Edwards, Elizabeth (ed.), Raw Histories: Photographs, Anthropology and Museums, Oxford: Berg, 2001 ; and Griffiths, Alison, Wondrous Difference: Cinema, Anthropology, & Turn-of-the-Century Visual Culture, New York: Columbia University Press, 2002 .

64 A.B. Meyer to General Direction, December 1885, Ministerium des Kultus und öffentlichen Unterrichts, SHStAD, Band 19300.

65 Carl Semper was an ethnologist who travelled extensively for the Godeffroy Museum in Hamburg. Meyer's article included a photograph of pictographic woodcarvings from the Palau islands that would later inspire the work of the Dresden-based German expressionist group Die Brücke.

66 In Germany, Bismarck was enforcing German cultural unification by commissioning paintings of German founding myths. See Koshar, Rudy, From Monuments to Traces: Artifacts of German Memory, 1870–1990, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000 .

67 See Penny, op. cit. (5), p. 25; and Eskildsen, Kasper Risbjerg, ‘Leopold Ranke's archival turn: location and evidence in modern historiography’, Modern Intellectual History (2008) 5, pp. 425453, 429.

68 A.B. Meyer to General Direction, 28 December 1885, Ministerium des Kultus und öffentlichen Unterrichts, SHStAD, Band 19300.

69 On how artists of natural-history illustrations perceived the limitations of engravings and lithographs see Sleigh, Charlotte, The Paper Zoo: 500 Years of Animals in Art, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2017, pp. 2022, 26.

70 MacCurdy, George Grant, review of Celebes I: Sammlung der Herren Dr Paul und Dr Fritz Sarasin aus den Jahren 1893–1896. Anhang: Die Bogen-, Strich-, Punkt- und Spiralornamentik von Celebes, by Meyer, A.B. and Richter, O., American Anthropologist (1904) (New Series) 6, pp. 716718, 716. See also Hodge, F.W., review of Album of Papua Types II: North New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, German Salomon Islands, by Dr Meyer, A.B. and Parkinson, R., American Anthropologist (1901) (New Series) 3, p. 174; Hamy, Ernest, review of Les habitants de Suriname, by Bonaparte, Prince Roland, Revue d'ethnographie (1885) 4, pp. 175176 ; Hamy, review of Seltene Waffen aus Afrika, Asien und Amerika, by Meyer, A.B. and Uhle, M., Revue d'ethnographie (1886) 5, p. 470; review of Masken von Neu Guinea und dem Bismarck Archipel by Meyer, Adolf B., Nature (1890) 42, p. 268; Gerland, G., review of Schnitzereien und Masken vom Bismarck Archipel und Neu Guinea, by Meyer, Adolf B. and Parkinson, R., Geographisches Jahrbuch (1894–1895) 18–19, p. 223; and Mason, O.T., review of Tanzobjekte vom Bismarck Archipel, Nissan und Buka, by Foy, Willy, American Anthropologist (1901) (New Series) 3, pp. 172173 .

71 Daston and Galison, op. cit. (42), p. 322. However, Meyer was not creating scientific atlases, though he was seeking to train his readers, including both specialists and the general public.

72 A.B. Meyer to General Direction, 28 December 1885, Ministerium des Kultus und öffentlichen Unterrichts, SHStAD, Band 19300.

73 A.B. Meyer to General Direction, 28 December 1885, Ministerium des Kultus und öffentlichen Unterrichts, SHStAD, Band 19300. On overlapping histories of art and science see Jones, Caroline A., Galison, Peter and Slaton, Amy E., Picturing Science, Producing Art, New York: Routledge, 1998 ; Smith, Pamela H., The Body of the Artisan: Art and Experience in the Scientific Revolution, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2004 ; Daston, Lorraine (ed.), Things That Talk: Object Lessons from Art and Science, New York: Zone Books, 2004 ; Bleichmar, Daniela, Visible Empire: Botanical Expeditions and Visual Culture in the Hispanic Enlightenment, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2012 ; and Klamm, Stefanie, Bilder des Vergangenen: Visualisierung in der Archäologie im 19. Jahrhundert: Fotografie – Zeichnung – Abguss, Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 2015 .

74 See Jefferies, Matthew, Imperial Culture in Germany, 1871–1918, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003 ; and Daum, Andreas, ‘Science, politics, and religion: Humboldtian thinking and the transformations of civil society in Germany 1830–1870’, Osiris (2002) 17, pp. 107140, 113–114.

75 Dumoutier, Gustav, review of Althertümer aus dem Ostindischen Archipel und angrenzenden Gebieten, by Meyer, A.B., Revue d'ethnographie (1885) 4, pp. 169174 .

76 Keane, Henry George, review of Althertümer aus dem Ostindischen Archipel und angrenzenden Gebieten, by Meyer, A.B., Nature (1885) p. 478.

77 Cooler, Richard M., The Karen Bronze Drums of Burma: Types, Iconography, Manufacture and Use, New York: E.J. Brill, 1994, p. 15.

78 Austrian ethnologist Franz Heger's work published in 1902 proposed a new classification into four types, Heger types I, II, III, IV. The Karen drum was reclassified as type III, but remained a unique type. Heger examined 165 drums, including the fifty-two discussed by Meyer and the 125 Karen-type drums. The Heger typology, which presents type I, the oldest, giving rise directly to type II, type III and type IV, is the classification system currently accepted. Heger was the director of the anthropological–ethnographic department of Vienna's natural-history museum.

79 On early modern naturalists’ practices of flattening collected objects through visual representation see Moser, Stephanie, ‘Making expert knowledge through the image: connections between antiquarian and early modern scientific illustration’, Isis (2014) 105, pp. 5899 .

80 Foy, Willy, Tanzobjekte vom Bismarck Archipel, Nissan und Buka, Dresden: Stengel, 1900, p. 2. Here the work of Dresden's scholars is consistent with historicism. Per Myers, ‘The causal logic of modern historicism dictated that each event be understood as an individual unit, assessed on its own terms and according to its own unique development. Each discrete event had its own distinct properties; the aggregate of such events yielded no coherent design’. See Myers, David, Resisting History: Historicism and Its Discontents in German-Jewish Thought, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003, p. 2.

81 Massin, op. cit. (7).

82 Meyer also wanted to use museum displays to train the eye by paring down the data to which the viewer was exposed. See Meyer, A.B., Studies of the Museums and Kindred Institutions of New York City, Albany, Buffalo, and Chicago, with notes on some European Institutions, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1905, p. 325.

83 Since the visual turn in history of science, scholars have worked to develop an epistemology that unites sensory and ideational knowing. See Wise, M. Norton, ‘Making visible’, Isis (2006) 97, pp. 7582 . One recent stunning effort to articulate visual epistemology is Bleichmar, op. cit. (74).

84 Hjalmar Stolpe, ‘Über die Tätowirung der Oster-Insulaner’, Abhandlungen und Berichte des ZAEM Dresden Festschrift (1899), pp. 9–11.

85 Stolpe, op. cit. (85), p. 4.

86 Stolpe, op. cit. (85), p. 10.

87 Stolpe, op. cit. (85), p. 2. Schaffer, writing on the previous scholarship written by British explorers in the 1790s, argues that the Polynesian tattoo was seen as an inscription device symmetrical with the tools and practices of the ship's astronomer. See Schaffer, Simon, ‘On seeing me write’, Representations (2007) 97, pp. 90122 .

88 Stolpe, op. cit. (85), p. 3. Stolpe did not describe these earlier explorers as using the term ‘individuality’ in the modern sense associated for many of his contemporaries with Kultur and industrialized nations.

89 Only 150 Easter Islanders were counted in 1882. See Wilhelm Geiseler, Die Oster-Insel: Eine Stätte prähistorischer Kultur in der Südsee: Bericht des Kommandanten S. M. Kbt. ‘hyäne’ Kapitänlieutenant Geiseler, über die ethnologische Untersuchung der Oster-Insel (Rapanui) an den Chef der Kaiserlichen Admiralität, Berlin: Mittler, 1883, p. 6.

90 Stolpe, op. cit. (85), p. 5. Stolpe referred to the Easter Islanders as Naturvoelker, a term which was not otherwise used among Dresden's ethnologists by this time. To be sure, contemporary architects and criminologists and some anthropologists saw tattoos as atavistic. See Canales, Jimena and Herscher, Andrew, ‘Criminal skins: tattoos and modern architecture in the work of Adolf Loos’, Architectural History (2005) 48, pp. 235256 . Furthermore, there was a perceived difference between art and decoration, and an arts and crafts movement in Germany that contested this distinction. Frank Trommler has identified a culture of Sachlichkeit at the beginning of the twentieth century. This reform movement reconciled art and industry through applied arts in response to the failed revitalization of German cultural life through elaborately invented historical traditions. See Trommler, Frank, ‘The creation of a culture of Sachlichkeit ’, in Eley, Geoff (ed.), Society, Culture, and the State in Germany, 1870–1930, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996, pp. 465485 . On Technik see Schatzberg, Eric, ‘ Technik comes to America: changing meanings of technology before 1930’, Technology and Culture (2006) 47, pp. 486512 .

91 Stolpe, op. cit. (85), p. 8.

92 Stolpe, op. cit. (85), p. 8.

93 Stolpe, op. cit. (85), p. 13.

94 Meyer, Adolf B., Masken von Neu Guinea und dem Bismarck Archipel, Dresden, Stengel & Markert 1889, 3.

I am delighted to thank Theodore M. Porter, Charlotte Sleigh, Chris Manias and the anonymous reviewers of this journal for their valuable suggestions on previous drafts of this article.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The British Journal for the History of Science
  • ISSN: 0007-0874
  • EISSN: 1474-001X
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-for-the-history-of-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×