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.
 

Contact

Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg


Transkulturelle Studien
Marstallstraße 6
D - 69117 Heidelberg
Email: CorinnaErck@gmx.de
Corinna-erckenbrecht

 

 

 

 

 

Curriculum Vitae

 

School - University

1981

Diploma (Abitur) from Wilhelm-Filchner Schule, Wolfhagen

1982

5-month trip to New Zealand

1982/83

Cultural Anthropology, Geography and Political Sciences at Marburg University

1983 – 1988

Cultural Anthropology, Political Sciences and Archaeology at Freiburg University

1986 

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

1988

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")

1992

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

1994 

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

Work Experience – Employment

1987

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

1988 

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)

1999

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.

2008 

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

Summary

Teaching

1991  Lectureship in Cultural Anthropology at Freiburg University:
“Fieldwork – Theoretical Foundations and problems of practical
implementation”
1993/94 

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

1994

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

1996/97

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

1997 

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

Publications

  • 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
    (ANU, JCU, SAM, UOG, MARC)

Membership

Active membership in 3 associations:

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

 

 

List of publications

 

Books

2010

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"

 

.

 

1998

 

Traumzeit. Die Religion der Ureinwohner Australiens

"Aboriginal Religion"

 

1993

 

Frauen in Australien – „Aboriginal Women“ gestern und heute

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

 

1988   

 

Land und Landrecht der australischen Aborigines.

"Land and Land Rights of the Australian Aborigines"

 

Articles

 

2014

 

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.

 

2014

 

(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.

 

2012

 

"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.

 

2011

 

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

 

2010

 

(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)

 

2010

 

Die Religion der australische Aborigines – Grundlagen für den
Religionsunterricht

“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

 

 

2010

 

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

 

2007

 

(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.

 

2007

 

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.
www.berlinergazette.de (Protokolle – Zeitgeist)

 

2006

 

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

 

2004

 

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.

 

2002

 

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.

 

2002

 

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

 

 

2001

 

„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.
Berlin.

 

2001

 

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

 

2000

 

Sehnsucht goes „outback.“

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

 

2000

 

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.
Wuppertal.

 

1999

 

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.
Wuppertal.

 

1998

 

„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.
Wuppertal.

 

1998

 

„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.

 

1997

 

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.

 

1997

 

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.
Wuppertal.

 

1997

 

Vorwort

"Preface"

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.

 

1996

 

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.
Wuppertal.

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