Accepted paper:

The Peripheral Centre: Dispersed Tradition of the German Enlightenment and Non-Colonialist Travelogues


Lazar Jovanović

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I discuss the peripheral status of the short-lived tradition of the German Enlightenment and assert that this intellectual current represents the tradition of its own which echoed in the latter development of the German anthropological tradition.

Paper long abstract:

The fact that the European colonial expansion gave rise to anthropology is an old truism within the research of the disciplinary history. Nonetheless, in my paper I want to draw attention to an ephemeral tradition of non-colonial explorers' accounts which originated within the intellectual current of the German Enlightenment, a short-lived tradition established within what was to become both political and territorial centre of Europe. Following the consensually adopted line of the disciplinary developmental path, German anthropological tradition is recognized as one of the four major ones, often perceived as the provenance of the Romantic movement and as such as a pair of dichotomy based on the oppositional relation to the tradition established within the framework of the French Enlightenment. The main goal of the paper is to underscore a distinctive form of the German Enlightenment and, in those lines, indicate the significant role of the omitted tradition, its distinctiveness and marginalized position both in the accounts of the disciplinary history as well as on the intellectual scene at the time. In the paper, I assert the peripheral status of the German Enlightenment, as the pre-Romantic intellectual current which preceded recognition and thus centralization of the German anthropological tradition. Therefore, I define it as a tradition of its own which profoundly influenced the course of the wider framework recognized as one of the centres of conceivement of anthropological thought.

panel P048
'Peripheral' anthropologies of Europe. Their histories and intellectual genealogies [Europeanist network]