20. March 2024

The Life of Wilhelm Joest: A Reading & Discussion with Anne Haeming Video Out Now!

Video Out Now!

Our video of the captivating reading & discussion event with Anne Haeming on "The life of Wilhelm Joest" is out now!

Anne Haeming and Pia Wiegmink share some insightful thoughts on the challenges of writing about an imperial actor like Wilhelm Joest from today's perspective.

The event was held as part of our (UN-)ABHÄNGIGE ANSICHTEN series.

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Pia Wiegmink and Jennifer Leetsch queried the author on the creative processes involved in writing about Wilhelm Joest, a nineteenth-century German ethnographer and traveller; the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum in Cologne traces its origins to his private collection of over 3,500 objects.

The story of Wilhelm Joest is that of an explorer who, as a young man, had the privilege of traveling across all continents and turning his ethnological hobby into a career. Anne Haeming provided an insight into her critical, decolonial examination of Joest's collection items as well as travel and research reports, which helped shape German ethnology in the 19th century. Instead of a chronological order, Haeming chose a theme- and object-oriented approach for Joest's biography. This enabled her to uncover and comment on contradictions and transgressions in Joest's and the colonial thinking and actions of the time. She emphasized this approach with her transparent writing style, for example, by crossing out words with colonial connotations in original text excerpts. An important topic in the discussion was therefore the question of the representation of Joest's life, i.e. the process and legitimization of biographical writing.

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