Eric Burton: Auf der Suche nach den Grenzen der Zivilisation. Ordnung und Teleologie in der Anthropologie der Naturvölker (1859) von Theodor Waitz


The German philosopher Theodor Waitz has been of great importance for the discipline of anthropology, figuring in introductory volumes as one of its pioneers who firmly based his theoretical thinking and empirical enquiry on a relativist Notion of culture. Through a close reading of his work, which is most relevant to the discipline, the first volume of his “Anthropologie der Naturvölker” (1859, published in English as “Introduction to Anthropology”), the article argues that Waitz’ objective of challenging contemporary racist theories is undermined not only by theoretical differentiation between primitive and civilised peoples (Naturvölker and Kulturvölker) but also by a largely forgotten teleology which reinstates a hierarchical ordering of the world.

[history of anthropology, culture, racism, enlightenment]