Adolf Bastian

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bastian, Adolf


Born June 26, 1826, in Bremen; died Feb. 2,1905, in Port of Spain, Trinidad. German ethnologist. Physician by training.

Bastian made many expeditions to all parts of the world and collected an enormous amount of ethnological material. He founded the Berlin Museum of Ethnology (1868). Bastian was primarily interested in the spiritual culture of the peoples he studied. He considered psychology the “science of the future.” His idea that the unity of the human psyche determines the unity of all cultures was progressive. However, many of Bastian’s concepts were marked by idealism and confusion. In a letter to Engels, Marx condemned Bastian’s attempt “at a ’natural scientific’ explanation of psychology and a psychological explanation of history” (Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 30, p. 102).


Allgemeine Grundzüge der Ethnologic Berlin, 1884.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Another collector was Philip (wrongly spelled Phillip) Wilhelm Adolf Bastian (1826-1905) who, in the past, was credited with coining the term 'Indonesia'.
Fiedler's final chapter is devoted to the professional turn in travel writing about Africa, which results from the rise of ethnology (Adolf Bastian, Leo Frobenius), turning against the rhetoric of colonial adventure while again reinforcing the colonial ideology of Europe's cultural mission in Africa.