The German Federal Ministery of Education (Bmbf) funds a project lead by Prof. Dr. Ammar Abdulrahman and Dr. Jenny Oesterle: "The Middle Ages as seen from Arab Eyes. Medieval Collections in Museums in Syria, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates".


"Historians and Historical Research at Iraqi Universities. A Survey".
The German Federal Ministry of Education (Bmbf) funds a project by Bashar Ibrahim and Jenny Oesterle (both members of the Arab German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities)
[more info]


Dr. Carsten Wergin contributed a session on 'Listening Carefully' to the Radical Hope Syllabus. The group-sourced syllabus is intended as a resource for anyone interested in environmental issues - and how we, collectively and/or individually, might respond to them [more info]


Dr. Corinna Erckenbrecht (assoziiertes Mitglied der Nachwuchsforschergruppe Das transkulturelle Erbe Nordwest-Australiens) ist seit Mai 2018 neue Leiterin der Abteilung Weltkulturen und ihre Umwelt an den rem | Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen in Mannheim.

[mehr infos]


Dr. Jenny Rahel Oesterle und Dr. Carsten Wergin zu ihren Forschungen im Open Access Video Journal Latest Thinking:


How Can Australian Indigenous Experience Change Western Perspectives of the World?




How Does Tourism Change People and Places?



Der Ruf des Schneckenhorns
Hermann Klaatsch (1863 – 1916). Ein Heidelberger Wissenschaftler in Nordwestaustralien


[mehr info]


Russischsprachige Bevölkerung in Osteuropa – von der Titularnation zur Minderheit
Demokratische Transformation und gesellschaftliche Integration im Baltikum und in der Ukraine



[mehr info]



Water, Knowledge and the Environment in Asia
Epistemologies, Practices and Locales

Water, Knowledge and the Environment in Asia

Edited by Ravi Baghel, Lea Stepan, Joseph K.W. Hill

[more info]


Lustre: Pearling and Australia


Edited by Tanya Edwards, Sarah Yu

[more info]



Anthropology in/of Australia Past and Present

im Rahmen der Lecture Series
Introduction to Australian Studies:
(Trans-)Disciplinary Perspectives

Dr. Carsten Wergin

20 Juni 2017, University of Cologne

[more info]



The Trouble with Representation: Australian Indigenous World(view)s and the "White Magic" of Modernity

Dr. Carsten Wergin

06 April 2017, University of Western Australia

[more Info]


Curtin Indigenous Research Network Lecture Series:

Heritage, Transculturality and Collections: New Research from Germany and the Kimberley,

30 March 2017, Curtin University, Perth

[more info]


Internationaler Workshop:

"Refugee transfers in the Euro- Arab Mediterranean zone:
Tying the past with the present
Towards a transregional and transhistorical understanding in times of crises"

(10-12 April 2017 Lebanese American University, Byblos, Lebanon)

organisiert von:

Dr. Jenny Oesterle (Research Group "Protection in Periods of Political and Religious Expansion) in cooperation with Dr. Tamirace Fakhoury (Lebanese American
University, Byblos) und der Arab German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities


Collaborations of Biocultural Hope: Community Science Against Industrialisation in Northwest Australia


Dr. Carsten Wergin

[mehr Infos]


Expansion und Aktivitäten des Mercedarier-Ordens im Andenraum des 16. Jahrhunderts

Dr. Maret Keller

Anden Diss - Keller

​(Dissertationsschrift Universität Heidelberg 2013), URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:16-heidok-187295


Dancehall und Homophobie
Postkoloniale Perspektiven auf die Geschichte und Kultur Jamaikas
Patrick HelberDancehall

​05/2015, 304 Seiten, kart.
ISBN 978-3-8376-3109-8

[weitere infos]


Materialities of Tourism
Special Issue of Tourist Studies (2014, 14/3)Guest-editors Stephen Muecke and Carsten Wergin




Caribbean Food Cultures
Culinary Practices and Consumption in the Caribbean and Its Diasporas
Food Cultures Transcript

05/2014, 306 pages,
ISBN 978-3-8376-2692-6
[for more information]


Dr. Corinna Erckenbrecht

Art, Culture and Religion at Beagle Bay in Historical Perspective

I pursue early research paths, theories, methods and queries concerning art, culture and religion at Beagle Bay based on historical and modern sources.

The German (physical) anthropologist, traveller and collector Hermann Klaatsch (1863-1916) visited  the Kimberley in 1905 and 1906 as part of his 3-year scientific journey all around Australia (1904-1907). He was the first European scientist to stay at the Beagle Bay Aboriginal Mission Station, which at that time was being run by the German Pallottine missionaries. Klaatsch’s personal and scientific documents of his stay at Beagle Bay represent a rich and diverse source of original historical data previously unavailable for research, and unassessed and unanalysed in detail. They examine and illuminate a crucial time in the history of anthropology, particularly in the understanding of Indigenous beliefs and arts.

Klaatsch, who had studied at Heidelberg University, spent several weeks during November-December 1905 and June-July 1906 at Beagle Bay. He stood in close contact with both its Aboriginal people (Nyul-Nyul) and the missionaries (Bischofs, Walter). He kept records and notebooks, took photographs, made drawings and compiled word and name lists, etc., in an almost fieldwork-like situation. At this stage of his Australian journey, Klaatsch was also already familiar with the emerging discipline of cultural anthropology at the Australian universities and the theories of its main protagonists, Baldwin Spencer and Francis Gillen. It was an important time in the history of anthropology – new theories and terminologies were being invented or “imported” to Australia, such as totemism or the rainbow serpent, which had not been in use in Australia before. Klaatsch was particularly interested in the concept of totemism and the artistic expressions in Aboriginal dance and song. At Beagle Bay he witnessed corroborrees (by men, women and children) and inquired about the specific meaning, creation, ornamentations and artefacts of such performances. In this context Klaatsch generally questioned whether the unique art, culture and religion of Indigenous people of Australia – and the Nyul-Nyul in particular – could be deemed totemism, or whether a better, more specific term should be applied instead.

My research focusses on the in-depth study of Klaatsch’s rich material, but takes also into account the works of other scholars active in that region, both old and new sources in archives and museum collections, as well as consultations with Indigenous people.


Abteilung Weltkulturen und ihre Umwelt
rem | Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen

Büroadresse: B4,10 / Postadresse: D5
68159 Mannheim

phone: +49 (0) 621 293 3167






Curriculum Vitae


School - University


Diploma (Abitur) from Wilhelm-Filchner Schule, Wolfhagen


5-month trip to New Zealand


Cultural Anthropology, Geography and Political Sciences at Marburg University

1983 – 1988

Cultural Anthropology, Political Sciences and Archaeology at Freiburg University


6-month study and research in Australia: Canberra (taking part in the biannual conference at the AIAS), Sydney, Perth


M.A. in Cultural Anthropology and Political Sciences at Freiburg University (Thesis “Land and Land Rights of the Australian Aborigines”)

1989 – 1990

1-year research grant from the German Academic Exchange Service ("Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst", DAAD) for anthropological research and fieldwork in Australia (Moree, N.S.W.)

1991 – 1992

1-year postgraduate scholarship from the research foundation of Baden-Württemberg ("Landesgraduiertenförderung")


Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology at Freiburg University
(Thesis “Tradition and Transformation of the Role of Aboriginal Women in Australia”)


Presentation of Faculty Award for outstanding scientific results (Ph.D.)

Work Experience – Employment


1-month traineeship at the Museum of Ethnology in Bremen working with the collection from Aboriginal Australia (documentation, guided tours)


3-month traineeship at the Museum of Ethnology in Freiburg working with the collection from Aboriginal Australia (exhibition, catalogue, articles)

1994 – 1996

2-year employment at the Museum of Ethnology in Cologne for the special exhibition “Female power and male dominance – Gender Relations in Cross-Cultural Perspective” (incl. editorial work for the catalogue, 2 vols.)

1998 – 2000

2-year employment at the Museum of Ethnology in Cologne in the South Sea department: reorganisation of the whole south sea collection (20 000 artefacts) and starting the new database (Access)


1-month research trip to Micronesia (Guam and Yap)

2004 – 2007

3-year research project about the German physical anthropologist Hermann Klaatsch (1863 – 1916) and his journey around Australia from 1904 – 1907 at the Museum of Ethnology in Cologne: Klaatsch’s time in Australia, his collection(s) of cultural artefacts and his perception of the Australian Aborigines. Based on newly available historical documents from his three years in Australia. Financed by the Fritz Thyssen research foundation in Cologne.


Research assistant for the research project “Histories of Collecting Cultural Artefacts in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area” at the James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland

Since 9/2008

Free-lance anthropological researcher and consultant: research, publications, conference papers, lectures, projects, scientific consultant for book publications, journals, film presentations or radio stations (interviews, features), ethnographic researcher and consultant for museum collections and exhibitions 

8/2009 - 2/2010

Guided tours, workshops and vocational training courses for teachers at the exhibition "James Cook and the Discovery of the South Sea" at the art and exhibition hall in Bonn.

2011 - 2013

Senior Research Associate (in Germany) with the ARC funded Discovery Project "Objects of Possession: Artefact Transactions in the Wet Tropics of North Queensland 1870 - 2013" at the James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland

First newsletter of our research group, August 2011

Second newsletter of our research group, February 2012

Third Newsletter of our research group, December 2012

Fourth newsletter of our research group, December 2013

2013 - 2015

Research project funded by the German Reserach Foundation (DFG) "Early missionary and colonial perspectives on the indigenous cultures and languages of Western Cape York Peninsula, Australia, and the documentation of the cultural changes in this region based on written documents, ethnographic artefacts and historical photographs" at the Moravian Mission Archive, Herrnhut, and the Ethnographical Museum Herrnhut, Saxonia



1991  Lectureship in Cultural Anthropology at Freiburg University:
“Fieldwork – Theoretical Foundations and problems of practical

Lectureship in Cultural Anthropology at Marburg University:
“Fieldwork – Theory and Method”


Lectureship in Cultural Anthropology at Marburg University:
“Gender Studies in English Speaking Anthropology”


Lectureship in Cultural Anthropology at Cologne University:
“Gender Relations in Cross-Cultural Perspective”


Lectureship in Cultural Anthropology at Göttingen University:
“The Australian Aborigines: Culture, Kinship, Religion”

2003/04  Lectureship in Cultural Anthropology at Mainz University:
“Gender Relations in Oceania”

Free-lance work

  • As an expert on Oceania and Aboriginal Australia for museum collections, exhibitions, catalogues
  • As an expert on Oceania, Aboriginal Australia, Religion, Cultural Artefacts and Gender Relations for further training courses (for teachers and students)
  • As a writer, contributing editor and scientific consultant for books, articles, journals and magazines (e.g. GEO, National Geographic)
  • As an expert on films from Oceania (for film clubs and film festivals)
  • As an interview partner for radio stations on Aboriginal Australia and related issues


  • 4 books
  • 1 contributing editor
  • 30 articles
  • 10 reviews

Research experience – Network – Contacts

  • Research, study and fieldwork experience in Australia and Micronesia
  • Networks and contacts with German and European museums and universities
    (esp. oceanic/south sea departments, curators and lecturers)
  • Networks and contacts with Australian and Micronesian museums and universities


Active membership in 3 associations:

  • German Association of Anthropologists (DGV)
  • German Association of Australian Studies (GASt)
  • European Society for Oceanists (ESfO)



List of publications




Auf der Suche nach den Ursprüngen - Die Australienreise des Anthropologen und Sammlers Hermann Klaatsch 1904 - 1907

"The Australian journey (1904 - 1907) of the German Anthropologist and Collector Hermann Klaatsch"






Traumzeit. Die Religion der Ureinwohner Australiens

"Aboriginal Religion"




Frauen in Australien – „Aboriginal Women“ gestern und heute

"Tradition and Transformation of the Role of Aboriginal Women in Australia"




Land und Landrecht der australischen Aborigines.

"Land and Land Rights of the Australian Aborigines"






Das „heidnische Krokodilspiel“ - Fotografie, Religion und Mission in Nord-Queensland.

In: Herrnhuter Bote. Mitteilungen aus der Herrnhuter Brüdergemeine. Heft 243, Juli/August 2014, S. 6f. Herrnhut.




(together with Anna Haebich, Perth)

Aboriginal People in Chains.

In: Brosch, Renate & Kylie Crane (eds.) Visualising Australia: Images, Icons, Imaginations. KOALAS-Band Nr. 11, S. 39-59. Trier: WVT.




"Women's business" - Aboriginesfrauen und Religion

In: Geographische Rundschau. Themenheft Australien und Neuseeland. Oktober 2012, Heft 10, Jahrgang 64. Magazinbeitrag. S. 51f.

Comment: short contribution in the Geographical Review, thematical focus of this number: Australia and New Zealand.




Person - Land - Eigentum: südslawisches, britisches und australisches Recht gegenüber indigenem Aboriginesrecht in Australien. Eine vergleichende Studie zur Rechtsethnologie.

"Person - Land - Ownership: South-Slavic, British and Australian Law versus indigenous Law in Aboriginal Australia. A comparative study."

In: Spomenica Valtazara Bogišića. Gedächtnisschrift für Valtazar Bogišić. Hrsg. vom Institut für vergleichende Rechtswissenschaft der Universität Belgrad, Serbien. Bd. 2, S. 233-280. JP Službeni Glasnik, Belgrad.

English Abstract




(together with Maureen Fuary, Shelley Greer, Rosita Henry, Russel McGregor and Michael Wood, James Cook University, Townsville)

"Artefacts and Collectors in the Tropics of North Queensland"

In: The Australian Journal of Anthropology (TAJA), Vol. 21, Nr. 3, p. 350-366. Sydney.

English Abstract (Manuscript)




Die Religion der australische Aborigines – Grundlagen für den

“The Religion of the Australian Aborigines - Teaching Religion at School"

In: Altendorf, Ulrike and Liesel Hermes (Hrsg.): Australien - Facetten eines Kontinents. S. 91-120. Tagungsband der 11. Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Australienstudien. KOALAS Bd. 9. Schriftenreihe im Auftrag der Gesellschaft für Australienstudien. Stauffenburg Verlag, Tübingen. 

English Abstract





Zur wissenschaftlichen Rezeption des Fremden – Die australischen
Aborigines in den Augen der Anthropologie und Ethnologie im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert

„The Australian Aborigines as seen by Anthropology and Ethnology in the 19th and 20th century

In: Anthropos, Internationale Zeitschrift für Völker- und Sprachenkunde, Bd. 105, S. 13-27. St. Augustin.

English Abstract




(together with Heinz Klaatsch)

Mumien in Australien. Eine Sonderform der Bestattung bei den
australischen Aborigines

„Mummies in Australia. A special burial custom in Aboriginal Australia“

In: Mumien. Der Traum vom ewigen Leben. Katalog zur gleichnamigen
Sonderausstellung der Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen, Mannheim. S. 117-122.
Mannheim: Philipp von Zabern.




Wenn gestern heute wieder morgen ist. Biblische Zeit und die Traumzeit der Aborigines

„Concepts and categories of Time: Biblical Time and the Dreamtime of the Australian Aborigines”

In: Berliner Gazette. Das digitale Mini-Feuilleton. Jahresthema Zeitgeist.
 Zeitgeist-Protokolle. Veröffentlichung am 24.10.2007. (Protokolle – Zeitgeist)




Vom Forschungsziel zur Sammelpraxis – Die Australienreise und die völkerkundliche Sammlung Hermann Klaatschs im Lichte neuer Quellen

“From Physical Anthropology to Artefact Collecting – The Australian Journey and the Collection of Cultural Artefacts of Hermann Klaatsch based on New Sources”

In: Kölner Museums-Bulletin. Berichte und Forschungen aus den Museen der Stadt Köln. Nr. 3, S. 25-36. Köln.

English Summary




Indigene Kultur und Religion in Australien

Dichtung oder Wahrheit? Die Darstellung der australischen Aborigines in der Belletristik.

"Indigenous Culture and Religion in Australia"

"Fact or Fiction/Truth or Fantasy? The presentation of Australian Aborigines in the belletristic literature”


In: "Traumspuren" Kunst und Kultur der australischen Aborigines. S. 9-29, 101-130. Tagungsband der Evangelischen Akademie Iserlohn, Institut für Kirche und Gesellschaft der Evangelischen Kirche von Westfalen. Iserlohn.




Traditionelle Religionen: Australien, Ozeanien (Lexikoneinträge zur Religion in Australien und Ozeanien mit Artikeln und Stichwortverzeichnissen)

„Traditional Religions: Australia, Oceania“

In: Harenberg Lexikon der Religionen. Die Religionen und Gaubensgemeinschaften der Welt. Ihre Bedeutung in Alltag, Geschichte und Gesellschaft. S. 924-937, S. 938-951. Dortmund: Harenberg-Verlagsgruppe.




Die wissenschaftliche Aufarbeitung der deutschen Kolonialzeit in der Südsee – Kritische Bemerkungen zum Handbuch „Die deutsche Südsee 1884 - 1914.“

“Looking back at the German Colonial Era in the South Sea – A critical Review of the Handbook ‘The German South Sea 1884 – 1914’ ”

In: Anthropos, Internationale Zeitschrift für Völker- und Sprachenkunde, Bd. 98, S. 163-179. St. Augustin.

English Abstract





„Objects or Subjects?“ – Australienwissenschaften zwischen empirischer Ethnologie und musealer Praxis

„‘Objects or Subjects?’ [= Artefacts or People?] – Cultural Anthropology between empirical Ethnology and practical Museum Work”

In: Newsletter der deutschen Gesellschaft für Australienstudien, Nr. 15,
S. 52-63.




Deszendenz, politische Macht und das Verhältnis der Geschlechter auf Yap, Westkarolinen

“Descendence, Political Power and Gender Relations on Yap, Western Caroline Islands”

In: Anthropos, Internationale Zeitschrift für Völker- und Sprachenkunde,
Bd. 96, S. 119-140.
St. Augustin.

English Abstract




Sehnsucht goes „outback.“

In: die tageszeitung (taz), 24./25. September, Magazin S. IV. Berlin.




Die materielle Kultur der australischen Aborigines – eine „Stein“zeit?

“The Cultural Artefacts of the Australian Aborigines – Examples of a
‘Stone’ Age ?”

In: Newsletter der deutschen Gesellschaft für Australienstudien, Nr. 14,
S. 27-42.




Bestseller über die australischen Aborigines – eine kritische Bestandsaufnahme aus ethnologischer Sicht

„Best sellers about the Australian Aborigines – a critical Review from an Anthropological Perspective”

In: Newsletter der deutschen Gesellschaft für Australienstudien, Nr. 13,
S. 37-50.




„Die vier Farben der Traumzeit“ – Kunst und Kultur australischer Aborigines-Frauen

„Four Colours of the Dreamtime – the Art of Aboriginal Women in Central Australia”

In: Newsletter der deutschen Gesellschaft für Australienstudien, Nr. 12,
S. 48-60.




„Der Bischof mit seinen 150 Bräuten“: Christentum und Polygamie auf Bathurst Island, Nordaustralien

" ’The Bishop with his 150 wifes’: Christianity and Polygamy on Bathurst Island, north Australia"

In: Jahrbuch des Museums für Völkerkunde Leipzig, Bd. 41, S. 303-322.
Münster, Hamburg: Lit Verlag.




Wandel der Geschlechterrollen und Geschlechterkonstruktionen in Australien

"Change of Gender Roles and Gender Constructions in Australia"

In: Völger, Gisela (Hrsg.): Sie und Er. Frauenmacht und Männerherrschaft im Kulturvergleich. S. 265–270. Ausstellungskatalog der gleichnamigen Sonderausstellung des Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museums für Völkerkunde in Köln. Ethnologica, N.F. Bd. 22, Köln: Wienand-Verlag.




Die Yanyuwa-Aborigines und der „Aeroplane-Dance“ –
und zwei weitere neue Dokumentarfilme aus Australien

"The Yanyuwa and the ‘Aeroplane Dance’ – and two other new
Documentary Films from Australia"

In: Newsletter der deutschen Gesellschaft für Australienstudien, Nr. 11,
S. 55-63.






In: Rühl, Christiane: The Autobiographical Literature of Aboriginal Women in Australia. Europäische Hochschulschriften, Reihe XIX, Abt. B, Bd. 44. Frankfurt a.M., Berlin: Peter Lang.




Neuere ethnologische Arbeiten über die australischen Aborigines

"Review of some new Anthropological Publications about the Australian Aborigines"

In: Newsletter der deutschen Gesellschaft für Australienstudien, Nr. 10,
S. 22-31.

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