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”The History of Human Stupidity”: Vojtěch Frič and his Program of a Comparative Study of Religions

Abstract

The present article represents a partial outcome of a larger project that focuses on the history of the beginnings of anthropology as an organized science at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, in the broader socio-political context of Central Europe. Attention is focused especially on the nationalist and social competitions that had an important impact upon intellectual developments, but in turn were influenced by the activities of scholars and their public activities. The case study of Vojtěch (Alberto) Frič, traveler and amateur anthropologist, who in the first two decades of the twentieth century presented to European scientific circles and the general public in the Czech Lands his magnanimous vision of the comparative study of religions, serves as a starting point for considerations concerning the general debates on the purpose, methods, and ethical dimensions of ethnology as these were resonating in Central European academia of the period under study.

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Sixteenth-century Mexican Monasteries and Art. An Anthropological Perspective

Abstract

This paper deals with sixteenth-century Mexican monastic architecture and art. Mexican monasteries were constructed all over the territory of New Spain (1635-1821) in relation to the need to evangelize the native American populations. The article discusses the place of this architecture and art in the historiography of the history of art taking into consideration the changes of paradigms and putting particular emphasis on anthropology and its approaches. In terms of method, it is interdisciplinary and combines synchronic and diachronic perspectives.

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Young People’s Joint Leisure Activities in Traditional Karelian Culture: Norms and Social Practice

Abstract

The paper* considers common youth leisure activities in traditional Karelian culture, from the point of view both of the culturally prescribed norms and the actual behaviour. Special attention is paid to official and social adolescent development frameworks and to reflection of these age-related stages in folk vocabulary. The paper uses a large number of recently published and unpublished ethnographic and folkloristic sources. The authors come to the conclusion that in Karelian culture there is a specific age-group framework for adolescence, as well as gender-related differences between male and female behavioural patterns. The paper shows that girls had to undertake more varied tasks than boys as, on the one hand, they were to play socially prescribed roles and follow moral obligations, remaining modest and, on the other hand, had to be active in order to get married and give birth to children.

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Tibetan Objects in the Náprstek Museum

Abstract

The Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures acquired two hundred items from Tibet in the 1950s: bronze sculptures, paintings and ritual implements. These items came from private collections confiscated after the Second War World according to the presidential decrees dealing with the post-war state reconstruction. Although the administration of the confiscated properties was meticulous, the transfer of items to the Náprstek Museum interrupted the history of ownership and meant the loss of the historical knowledge of its origin. As the result, the Tibet collection in the Náprstek Museum reveals more about the political and social history of post-war Czechoslovakia than about the perception of Tibetan culture in Czechoslovakia during the first half of the 20th century.

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To the Origins of American Archaeology in the Czech Lands: The Case of Julius Nestler

Abstract

The basis for the present article is the case study of Julius Nestler, amateur archaeologist from Prague, who at the beginning of the twentieth century pursued excavations in the ruins of Tiahuanaco and brought to Prague a unique collection of about 3,600 pieces, deposited now in the Náprstek Museum in Prague. His activities are put into the broader context of the origins of Americanist archaeology and anthropology in Central Europe, against a background of nationalist competition and economic entrepreneurship. The life story of Nestler also brings to the fore the problem of ethics in anthropological and archaeological work.

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