n Acta Germanica : German Studies in Africa - Techne und Poiesis
Die Entdeckung wissenschaftlicher und poetischer Verfahren der Reisebeschreibung

Volume 42, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1273



Scientific and poetological methods are constitutive for ethnological travelogues of the 18th and 19th century by Carsten Niebuhr, Georg Forster, Alexander von Humboldt and Richard Burton. The method of description characterises a poetics of knowledge which brings to the fore scientific and aesthetic components which are weighted differently. Based on his observations on ethnography Ludwig Wittgenstein argues in the twentieth century for the precedence of a descriptive method and against a hermeneutics of the other: description rather than explanation should take precedence in order to avoid covering the other with texts. In contemporary literature ethnographically oriented novels (Kehlmann, Trojanow, Stangl) refer to classical voyages of discovery and resist conquest and expropriation in their own text.

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