This volume is the result of a symposium held at the Ethnological Museum Berlin in 2005, the hundredth anniversary of Adolf Bastian’s death. Adolf Bastian (1826-1905) was the founding father of the discipline of ethnology in Germany and of the Royal Museum of Ethnology in Berlin.
During his first world voyage from 1850 to 1858 Bastian saw that native cultures were rapidly changing or disappearing and wanted to create an “archive of humanity” to preserve the knowledge and the material culture of these peoples for further studies. He believed in the unity of mankind, regardless of its cultural or social complexity. To master the immense task of collecting information and objects, Bastian created a far reaching network of scholars, collectors and travellers all over the world.
The 27 contributors are examining Bastian’s personality, his writings, and his legacy. They are dealing with the scientific community in Berlin, his work at the museum and the work of the generation after him. A major part of the contributions is dedicated to his voyages in different parts of the world, and finally two examples are demonstrating the significance of the collections assembled during his lifetime for modern native communities.