Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institut für Europäische Ethnologie

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Institut für Europäische Ethnologie | Forschung | Labore | Museen/Ausstellungen | Termine im Museumslabor | Museumslabor: Tony Bennett (Sydney): Aesthetics, culture, and the ordering of race: Boas and the Boasians

Museumslabor: Tony Bennett (Sydney): Aesthetics, culture, and the ordering of race: Boas and the Boasians

  • Wann 08.05.2017 von 18:00 bis 20:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC200)
  • Wo 107a
  • Termin zum Kalender hinzufügen iCal

Franz Boas, conventionally treated as the author of the culture concept, has served as a key lynch-pin around whom the history of anthropology, both generally and in its relations to museum practices, has been made to swivel. This is so in three main respects.  The first consists in the significance conventionally accorded the culture concept in displacing accounts of difference based on biological conceptions of race.  The second concerns the role accorded Boas's formulation of the culture concept in displacing hierarchical conceptions of culture with culturally relativist ones.  The third attribute typically attributed to the culture concept is that of announcing a break with the elitist associations of aesthetic conceptions of culture.  I shall argue that, to the contrary, the culture concept as elaborated by Boas and his successors was inherently aesthetic in the stress it placed on the formal patterning of ways of life. These aesthetic aspects of the culture concept also played a crucial role in the concept's political history comprised by the role it played in mediating the relations between different cultures–shaped by conceptions of racial difference–in the complex relations between America's white nativists, new generations of immigrants, and African Americans within the emerging dynamics of American multiculturalism and, as part of a distinctive stage in the development of US settler colonialism, the separation of Native Americans  from these dynamics.


Tony Bennett is Research Professor in Social and Cultural Theory in the Institute for Culture and Society at the University of Western Sydney.  He is a member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and of the Academy of the Social Sciences in the UK. His main books include Formalism and Marxism (1979), Bond and Beyond: The Political Career of a Popular Hero (1987, with Janet Woollacott), Outside Literature (1991), The Birth of the Museum (1995), Culture: A Reformer's Science (1998), Pasts Beyond Memory: Evolution, Museums, Colonialism (2004), and Making Culture, Changing Society (2013). He is also a co-author of Accounting for Tastes: Australian Everyday Cultures (1999), Culture, Class, Distinction (2009) and Collecting, Organising, Governing: Anthropology, Museums and Liberal Government (2017).