Conditions of acquisitions in colonial Cameroon

The PAESE sub-project currently under way at the Landesmuseum Hannover, is centred on an analysis of the genesis of the ethnographic collection of the museum, with a focus on colonial acquisitions of objects from Cameroon. Special attention will be paid to the examination of the contexts of the object acquisitions, thus examining the social, cultural, economic, political and legal circumstances surrounding the change of ownership. The research will take into account people involved in the process of object exchange, the accompanying social transfer of knowledge, the production of knowledge and the change in meaning of the objects, as well as collecting practices and forms of presentation at the Provinzial- respectively Landesmuseum Hannover. It is to be shown to what extent individuals exert influence on the social life and the attribution of meanings to the objects. In addition, it will be examined what role objects from the colonies played in general in the exhibitions of the museum in Hanover.
Within the framework of the project, the sub-project at the Landesmuseum Hannover will initially concentrate on two important collections from Cameroon: the museum currently holds 167 objects from the colonial officer Wilko von Frese, who was stationed in Dschang between 1908 and 1910. This collection was gathered in the so-called Grassfields of Cameroon and constitutes an important part of the museum's holdings with significant and often exhibited objects. Different types of acquisition are possible: donations and purchases, but also appropriations on punitive expeditions. This will be examined on a case-by-case basis.
In addition, the provenance of a collection purchased through the ethnographic dealer Julius Konietzko in 1930 will be investigated. The dealer stated that the objects were requisitioned in a punitive expedition by the Governor Jesko von Puttkamer in Bamenda in 1911. However, initial investigations have shown that von Puttkamer was no longer in Cameroon at the time stated. Not only the erroneous and misleading indication of provenance, but above all the alleged context of violence of the collection, which furthermore consists of culturally sensitive objects, as well as the central actors who are associated with it, make this relevant for a more in-depth analysis. In this way, a contribution is to be made to the postcolonial examination of German colonial history.




The project "Conditions of acquisitions in colonial Cameroon" came to an end in October 2021. Please direct project-related enquiries to the heads of the sub-project Claudia Andratschke and Mareike Späth.


Researcher: Bianca Baumann

Head of the Subproject: Dr. Claudia Andratschke und Mareike Späth

Academic Adviser: Prof. Dr. Brigitte Reinwald (Leibniz University Hannover)