About this blog

This blog documents the efforts of a research project based on Berlin’s extensive natural history collections from Australia. It focuses on the objects (from rock samples to preserved plants and animals) and written material (e.g. journals and letters) sent by German-speaking explorers to the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Berlin, whose anatomical, mineralogical and zoological collections were merged into the Museum für Naturkunde in 1889. 

By systematically reconstructing the history of some of these collections, we aim to explore the role of colonial natural history in the production, circulation and use of knowledge about the world. At the centre of our work is the important role played by First Peoples in the formation of these collections, whose labour and knowledge was extracted by German-speaking naturalists.

Working collaboratively with colleagues in Australia, we are trying to learn more about how colonial natural history collections – and the Indigenous and European knowledges they hold – can be reconstructed, made accessible to communities, cared for as cultural heritage, and engaged with respectfully and collaboratively.

The project was initially supported by a starting grant from the Digital Cultural Heritage Studies (CHeST) initiative of the University of Trier and the Research Funding Unit of the University of Potsdam. Building on this work, the project’s PIs, Anja Schwarz and Eva Bischoff, received a two-year grant from the German Lost Art Foundation in 2022 to conduct provenance research on collections from colonial contexts.

Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search