History of Asian Ethnographies

With this project, the Institute for Social Anthropology (ISA) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (AAS) aims to establish a digital archive to encompass the comprehensive scientific history of Austrian research in Asia. The long history of anthropological research starting in the 19th century will be tackled along the three regional focuses the Middle East (emphasis on South Arabia and the Kurdish Regions), Buddhist Central Asia (emphasis on Tibet, Mongolia) and Southeast Asia (emphasis on Indonesia, India) and the islands of the Indian Ocean.

Up to now this comprehensive, multifarious ethnographic research leading to various theoretical impetus for the discipline at large is neither consolidated in archives, elaborately documented in one repository nor analyzed sufficiently.

Due to the acquisition of legacies and ethnographic documentations, ISA holds three very comprehensive and scientifically valuable collections of Multimedia material: the bequest of Prof. Walter Dostal, the bequest of Werner Finke and the photo data base on South Arabia (Gingrich, Heiss, Dostal).

This digitization project aims to elaborate on the disciplines history in unifying various materials, partly owned by ISA itself, in private legacies, in academic institutions in order to conserve this cultural heritage. The multimedia documents in these legacies have an outstanding meaning for the regions concerned. Furthermore, this project will elaborate on the disciplines’ shaping, will initiate scientific exchange and enable access for the international public. The concerned inventories encompass several generations of researcher and thus enable to trace the disciplinary developments and their (inter) national entanglements.