Publikationen, Termine

Heinrich Barth: Science and Diplomacy in Africa before the Advent of Imperialism. Käte Hamburger Centre for Global Cooperation Research, Duisburg, 30.09.2021 – 02.10.2021

International Workshop on Heinrich Barth, science and diplomacy in Africa before the advent of imperialism: a forgotten mastermind of Euro-African cooperation. Conveners are Christoph Marx (University of Duisburg-Essen) Stephanie Zehnle (University of Kiel) Nina Schneider (Centre for Global Cooperation Research). In cooperation with the Heinrich-Barth-Institute, Cologne

Heinrich Barth: Science and Diplomacy in Africa before the Advent of Imperialism

Käte Hamburger Centre for Global Cooperation Research, Duisburg (Germany)

The German scholar Heinrich Barth (1821–1865) was one of the most important 19th-century explorers of Africa who after his early death became quite forgotten, because his work did not support the imperialist ambitions and colonialist ideologies unfolding during the following decade. Yet, Barth was an outstanding theorist and practitioner of peaceful cooperation between Europeans and Africans. He is an ideal figure to explore precolonial ideas and practices of global cooperation on one hand, and its counterpart –imperialist rule – on the other.

Barth travelled as participant in a large expedition launched and financed by the British Foreign Office. After the leader of the expedition had died, Barth became the new director, although he was not a British but a Prussian citizen. Barth’s legacy in Africa itself was quite remarkable because he was remembered as an eminent scholar even decades later. Indeed, there is still considerable interest in Africa in Barth, not the least in connection with the research on African manuscripts in Arabic, the most famous of which are archived in Timbuktu and are currently being restored and edited. When in West Africa, Heinrich Barth did research in some of his informants’ Arabic libraries, he certainly realized the relevance of Africa’s written heritage.

On the occasion of his 200th birthday in 2021, our international workshop aims to fill an academic void and rediscover Barth’s concepts and practices of Euro-African encounter. The workshop will – for the first time – analyse Barth’s scholarly practices and achievements within the context of his political and diplomatic programme. Together and across disciplines, we will trace his ideas and practices in all the four main aspects of his work: historical, geographic, ethnographic und linguistic. Barth was the only substantial scholar among African explorers and as his results are still of tremendous importance to researchers on West African and Saharan history.

We welcome papers in English (or French) from different disciplines and fields of research:
– African Studies
– History
– Archaeology
– Ethnology
– Linguistics
– Islamic Studies
– Politics

Keynotes will be given by Shamil Jeppie (University of Cape Town) on the Timbuktu manuscript collections and by Wolfgang Reinhard (University of Freiburg) on mid-nineteenth century colonialism(s). Workshop events also include a special exhibition on Heinrich Barth. The online-edition of the correspondence of Barth (German Research Foundation project) – counting about 1700 letters – will also be launched at the University of Duisburg-Essen Library by Christoph Marx in honour of Barth’s 200th birthday.

We offer free accommodation for participants and will reimburse expenses for travel/visa.

Please send your abstracts of 300-500 words to by March 15th 2021.

Contact (announcement)

J.Prof. Dr. Stephanie Zehnle
Juniorprofessorin für Außereuropäische Geschichte/
Assistant Professor of Extra-European History

Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel/University of Kiel
Olshausenstraße 40, 24098 Kiel (Post)
Leibnizstraße 8, R.205, 24118 Kiel (Office)