Bastian, Adolf

Bastian, Adolf

(ä`dôlf bäs`tyän), 1826–1905, German anthropologist. Often called the father of ethnography, he recorded his observations of peoples and cultures in Der Mensch in der Geschichte [man in history] (1860). His concept of "elemental ideas" as common to mankind but varying in form according to "folk ideas" of a given area foreshadows the kulturkreis of Wilhelm SchmidtSchmidt, Wilhelm,
1868–1954, German linguist and anthropologist, a Roman Catholic priest. Educated at the universities of Berlin and Vienna, he entered the Society of the Divine Word in 1890. Residing mainly in Austria, he taught at the Univ.
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. His influence was transmitted through the works of Franz BoasBoas, Franz
, 1858–1942, German-American anthropologist, b. Minden, Germany, Ph.D. Univ. of Kiel, 1881. He joined an expedition to Baffin Island in 1883 and initiated his fieldwork with observations of the Central Eskimos.
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 and others. Bastian's important studies appeared in the Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, which he helped to found and edit, and in Ethnologische Forschungen (1871–73).
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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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).

WORKS

Allgemeine Grundzüge der Ethnologic Berlin, 1884.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.