GISCA Occasional Paper Series

The Göttingen Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology (GISCA) Occasional Paper Series publishes excellent student theses, current research findings of the institute's researching and teaching staff as well as outstanding talks at our institute's colloquium.

Current Volumes:

GISCA 22 Wartenberg

GISCA No.22, 2019


Josefine Wartenberg

"Das Konvolut Leonhard Schultze Jena - Eine kolonialzeitliche Spurensuche in der Ethnologischen Sammlung Göttingen"

The Ethnological Collection of the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen includes a number of objects bought from the German zoologist, ethnologist and geographer Leonhard Schultze Jena (1872-1955) from 1937 onwards. He collected these objects during his extensive research expeditions at the beginning of the 20th century in the former colonies of German New Guinea and German South-West Africa. This work poses the question of how these objects came to Germany and what interests led the research activities of their collector. Schultze Jena’s publications show both his relations and attitudes to the indigenous population and to the colonial administration. Through the analysis of his publications it is shown how the practice of ethnographic collecting and colonialism as ideology and system are interwoven at a more general level.

GISCA 21 Klinkenborg

GISCA No.21, 2018

Master thesis

Lina Klinkenborg

"Migration und Identität - Die Rapanui und ihre Migrationserfahrungen"

Migration is a current and important topic worldwide. As well for the Rapanui who live on the edge of the Polynesian triangle in the middle of the Pacific on Rapa Nui, better known as Easter Island. Based on an ethnographic fieldwork on Rapa Nui, this study examines the migration experiences of Rapanui and their impact on their identity. In particular, the focus is lying on migration for education and work purposes as well as the return to the island. Young Rapanui or so-called mestizos (literally translated as person of mixed parentage, mestizos), children with a Rapanui and a parent of another nationality, grow up in the context of political, cultural and social change. The identity of Rapanui moves within these various contexts. Especially the cultural and ethnic identity as well as the language Rapanui play an important role for their identity constructions and sense of belonging. It is argued that demarcation and negotiation processes take place during migration and after returning to the island, and that migration experiences can affect the identity of the Rapanui and can lead to identity shifts or reinforcements whereupon individual and contextual circumstances have to be taken into account.

GISCA 20 Lauser

GISCA No.20, 2018

Multimedia paper including photos, video and audio

Andrea Lauser

"Staging the spirits: lên đồng - cult - culture - spectacle"

Vietnamese mediumship known as lên đồng, a central ritual practice in the context of the so-called Religion of the Mother Goddesses (Ðạo Mẫu, also referred to as “the way of the four palaces”, Đạo Tứ Phử), can be described as a vital religious practice which has proved its resilience and adaptability throughout its history despite persistent criticism in the name of modernity and progress. In this paper I trace the dynamics of the transformation of this practice from a forbidden possession ritual at the centre of the Four Palace Cult (Đạo Tứ Phử) to its toleration and appreciation as an expression of “authentic” Vietnamese culture and collective national identity. I outline this pathfrom national shame to national fame through different stages and ‘spaces of articulation’, such as folklorization, the experimental art spectacle, and heritagization and theatricalization as propaganda spectacle. The question of whether mediumship is accepted as a religious ritual, or even as a religion at all, is of political significance and relevance in a country like Vietnam, where the state judges the legitimacy of religion.