completed project


The project “Professional Networking and Connections of the Viennese ‘Völkerkunde’ Institute with the ‘Altreich’”

This project should be viewed as an addition to the on-going FWF-project “Upheavals – Collaborators, Defectors and Outcasts: Socio-Cultural anthropology at the University of Vienna during the Nazi period”, which is carried out under the supervison of Prof. Andre Gingrich at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology in Vienna.

Within the scope of the project about the Networking and Connections of the Viennese “Völkerkunde” Institute with the “Altreich”, it will be determined how the various relationships between Viennese and German scholars and researchers of Völkerkunde and the corresponding German institutes and museums developed during the Nazi period, both before and after 1938. Interactions of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Anthropological Association (DGV) are also included in the research. Völkerkunde in Austria was limited to Vienna – apart from a temporary chair in Graz – so it is legitimate to focus on the capital within the project.

The study of the mutual relations of scholars and scientists in both countries is an explosive subject: On the one hand Austria and Germany shared a common language and the socio-cultural anthropological trends in the German speaking countries developed by no means independently from each other; on the other hand the relationship between Austria and Germany at that time (i.e. on the eve of occupation up to 1938, and as an internalized occupied part of the Third Reich after that) was highly specific and complicated, not only between high public officials. How all these affected the interaction of Völkerkundler in both countries is an issue of the project. Furthermore, it should be considered that frequent interactions generally had a system-stabilizing impact not least during the National Socialism.

Against the background of the changing political parameters, and taking into account individual biographies, respective theoretical positions and personal attitudes, this study investigates as to what extent and under which circumstances individual Austrian and German Völkerkundler cooperated with each other, avoided one another, or were even defamed under certain conditions. Völkerkundlerwho disappeared into inner or outer emigration, should also be considered. Furthermore, it is to clarify to what extent the Viennese Völkerkundler sought DFG support and how far they were actually promoted by this institution, especially with regard to the Austrian-German Academic Assistance, a sub-organization of the DFG. The project’s guiding question is, therefore, to what extent were there contacts between Viennese Völkerkundler, German colleagues and the named institutions, and how did these contacts develop? This project also establishes a direct connection between studies on the role of socio-cultural anthropology during the Nazi period in Austria on the one hand, and in Germany on the other.


This project was funded by the FWF as part of the Lise Meitner Program.