Many Roads Lead to Göttingen

The Ethnographic Collection of the Georg-August-University Göttingen and the International Trade Routes and Networks in the 19th and 20th Centuries

The aim of the project is the reconstruction of trade routes and networks between Germany and its former colony in German New Guinea, now Papua New Guinea. Those networks and trade routes that are directly related to objects from the Ethnographic Collection of the University of Göttingen will be examined and analysed. Of interest are those objects that were acquired in the South Sea Colony between 1890 and 1914 and are thus to be seen in a colonial context. On the basis of these object holdings, various questions can be asked: Who were the men and women who produced these objects and traded with them or from whom they were stolen. How did Europeans, both female and male, and also locals acquire objects in the colonies? Why are these objects in Göttingen today and how did they get here? How has the significance of the objects changed in this transfer process? What motives did the actors pursue in producing / giving away / selling / buying the objects or appropriating them by force?

In order to answer these questions, various sources have been used. In addition to the archive of the Ethnographic Collection of the University of Göttingen, travel descriptions of the collectors, correspondence, publications and the objects themselves will be analysed.

The historical context from which the objects originate will also be considered. This includes contemporary political and social debates as well as collection strategy, standards and the contemporary understanding of the generation of knowledge. On this basis, the work will contribute to the reappraisal of German colonial history in Oceania, as well as to the reappraisal of the colonial collection holdings of the Ethnolographic Collection in Göttingen.


The subproject "Trade Routes and Networks" came to an end in November 2021. Please direct project-related enquiries to the head of the sub-project Rebekka Habermas.


Researcher: Sara Müller (Georg-August-University Göttingen)

Head of the Subproject and Academic Adviser: Prof. Dr. Rebekka Habermas (Georg-August- University Göttingen)