The Ethnographic Frontier in German New Guinea


Anthropologists and world historians make strange bedfellows. Although the latter frequently employ anthropological methods in their descriptions of cross-cultural exchanges, the former have raised substantial reservations about global approaches to history. Fearing loss of specificity, anthropologists object to the effacing qualities of techniques employed by world historians—this despite the fact that anthropology itself was a global, comparative enterprise in the nineteenth century. Anthropology’s Global Histories: The Ethnographic Frontier in German New Guinea, 1870–1935, by Rainer F. Buschmann, seeks to recover some of anthropology’s global flavor by viewing its history in Oceania through the notion of the ethnographic frontier—the furthermost limits of the anthropologically known regions of the Pacific. The colony of German New Guinea (1884–1914) presents an ideal example of just such a contact zone.

October 2008 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3184-4 / $55.00 (CLOTH)