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Humboldts encounter with the other Lydia Sampson.

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Präsentation zum Thema: "Humboldts encounter with the other Lydia Sampson."—  Präsentation transkript:

1 Humboldts encounter with the other Lydia Sampson

2 Setting the scene Humboldt fits into a much larger movement Previous travel writing- circumnavigation, mapping the coastlines, very maritime, survival literature Linnaeus set up a new system by which all plants could be placed in order of their reproductive parts Inspired many to go out and find new plants and categorise them

3 Humboldt himselfs view on this shift It is not by sailing along a coast that we can discover the direction of chains of mountains and their geological constitution, the climate of each zone and its influence on the forms and habits of organized beings. (Imperial Eyes) No distinction made, in theory, between groups of humans- all organized beings Lack of distinction not made by everybody

4 Enlightenment view of Others the curious paradox of Enlightenment thought, that the supposedly universal aspiration to liberty, equality and fraternity in fact only operated within a very circumscribed universe. Equality was only ever conceived as equality among people presumed in advance to be equal, and if some person or group fell by definition outside of the circle of equality, then it was no failure to live up to this political ideal to treat them as unequal. Justin Smith, The Enlightenments Race Problem

5 Planetary consciousness Europeans wanted to learn, and did learn, about the world in greater depth than ever before via the means of natural history. This shift in their awareness of said world helped people to construct a new view of it in which Europe was very much still the centre. (Imperial Eyes, paraphrased) Humboldt was a part of this movement, feeding European curiosity and adding to planetary consciousness.

6 Consequences of this shift Thirst for new knowledge, new plants, animals, peoples, everything Colours perception of people in these countries as exotic and strange Equal in theory, but not in practice, and sometimes not in theory either (Pater Zea representative of Spanish empire, famed for cruelty)

7 Examples of Humboldts Enlightenment regarding non-Europeans He frees slaves (p.70), although seems to view them in the abstract, as an experiment Is shocked by, and is very against, slavery Talks to non-Germans just as he would to Germans, normally Doesnt force his native guide to enter the Totenreich, leaves him be

8 Examples of Humboldts more problematic behaviour Refers to European monks and, presumably, his tour guide as Abergläubische Tölpel, p.73 He upsets natives by effectively grave robbing, shows no respect to the dead, may not even have permission to enter the cave in the first place Is haunted by guilt over losing his dog, but not of allowing the Spanish to torture people without complaining or of accepting Pater Zeas wiping out of an entire tribe.

9 Humboldt zerrte mehrere Leichen aus ihren Körben, löste Schädel von Wirbelsäulen, brach Zähne aus Kinnladen und Ringe von Fingern. Eine Kinderleiche und zwei Erwachsene wickelte er in Tϋcher und schnϋrte sie... fest zusammenp.120 His character type- that of the European explorer described as he whose imperial eyes passively look out and possess, (Imperial Eyes) is clearly shown here, assuming a right to take whatever he wants.

10 Diese Leute seien so abergläubisch… man merke, welch weiter Weg es noch sei zu Frieden und Vernunft p.121 Aber diese Toten seien so alt, daβ man sie eigentlich nicht mehr Leichen nennen können. Die ganze Welt bestehe schlieβlich aus toten Körpern!... Was hätten sie nur alle, wo sei das Problem? p. 123 Describes a native child as having Tieraugen

11 Humboldt and women Women are also Others for Humboldt Doesnt speak much on what he thinks women are, except for Es miβfiel ihm zu sehen, an wie vielen Stellen Frauen behaart waren; das schien ihm unvereinbar mit ihrer natϋrlichen Wϋrde p.72 Kant: Das Frauenzimmer hat ein angebornes stärkeres Gefühl für alles, was schön, zierlich und geschmückt ist. Schon in der Kindheit sind sie gerne geputzt und gefallen sich, wenn sie geziert sind. Sie sind reinlich und sehr zärtlich in Ansehung alles dessen, was Ekel verursacht. (Beobachtungen über das Gefühl des Schönen und Erhabenen)

12 Conclusion Humboldt may view non-Europeans as fellow men in theory, but in practice, is condescending and Othering His attitudes to women are less clear, but his referencing of Kant and natϋrlichen Wϋrde suggest that he categorises them and Others them as he would any species he does not understand.

13 Bibliography Imperial eyes: travel writing and transculturation, Pratt, Mary Louise, 2008 Die Vermessung der Welt, Kehlmann, Daniel, 2008 Beobachtungen über das Gefühl des Schönen und Erhabenen from Werke in sechs Bänden / Band 1, Kant, Immanuel, 1764 The Enlightenments Race Problem, Smith, Justin, New York Times, 2013

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