Leo Frobenius and Kino-Vision

  • Assenka Oksiloff


In an autobiographical piece from 1925, Leo Frobenius reviews his long career as one of the most controversial ethnographers of the German tradition. The title of the sketch, “The Young Frobenius and I,” splits the authorial identity in a gesture typical of Frobenius. A writer who enjoyed referring to himself in the third person, Frobenius actively promoted the proliferation of multiple personas. In referring to the early years, Frobenius notes: “My writings as well as their young author are so far removed from me that I feel in my present state to have merely been developed out of that other world without really feeling identified with my youth and that way of thinking, nor with my T and ‘mine.’”1


World History Authorial Identity Dead Bone Folk Tale German Tradition 
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    Leo Frobenius, Erlebte Erdteile. 12 vols. (Frankfurt am Main: Frankfurter Societätsdruck, 1920–1925), 1: 25.Google Scholar
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    In a fascinating analysis, Johannes Fabian demonstrates how Ratzel’s work can be read as an intervention into dominant evolutionary models of his time. Fabian notes: “Priority was given to the study of specific cultural identities understood as the outcome of processes of interaction between a population and its environment. Emphasis on real space (ecology) precluded concern with temporal grading of societies on evolutionary scales according to postulated general laws.” Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other: How Anthropology makes its Objec. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), 19. While this aspect of Fabian’s work is noteworthy, it is also countered at times by a tendency to identify an extremely determined cause and effect between physical environment and characteristics of a given culture. While space is no longer “empty space,” physical geography can serve as a new absolute determinant in this schema. In Ratzel’s case, this dependence on geography as a determinant of cultural traits functioned at times to justify a colonialist program.Google Scholar
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© Assenka Oksiloff 2001

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  • Assenka Oksiloff

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