Category Archives: Publication

The publication “Heritage Futures” is shortlisted for the EAA Book Prize 2023

The EAA (European Association of Archaeologists) annually awards the EAA Book Prize to honour recent publications by EAA Members. By the 28 February 2023 deadline, we received altogether 49 nominations. The Book Prize selection committee shortlisted ten publications, which the committee will further evaluate. The winning title will be announced at the Opening Ceremony of the 29th EAA Annual Meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The publication “Heritage Futures” is shortlisted for the EAA Book Prize 2023: Website of the EAA Book Prize 2023.

Heritage Futures: Comparative Approaches to Natural and Cultural Heritage Practices
by Rodney Harrison, Caitlin DeSilvey, Cornelius Holtorf, Sharon Macdonald, Nadia Bartolini, Esther Breithoff, Harald Fredheim, Antony Lyons, Sarah May, Jennie Morgan, and Sefryn Penrose.
UCL Press 2020, Open Access.
For further information and to freely download the publication, please visit the UCL Press website.

Magdalena Buchczyk: Weaving Europe, Crafting the Museum

The new book offers fresh insights into the little-known collection of the Museum Europäischer Kulturen (Museum of European Cultures, MEK) in Berlin. Buchczyk’s monograph Weaving Europe, Crafting the Museum delves into the history and the changing material culture in Europe through the stories of a basket, a carpet, a waistcoat, a uniform, and a dress. The focus on the objects from the MEK offers an innovative and challenging way of understanding textile culture and museums. The book shows that textiles can be simultaneously used as the material object of research, and as a lens through which we can view museums. In doing so, the book fills a major gap by placing textile knowledge back into the museum.

Each chapter focuses on one object story and can be read individually. Swooping from 19th-century wax figure cabinets, Nazi-era collections, Cold War exhibitions in East and West Berlin, and institutional reshuffling after German unification, it reveals the dramatically changing story of the museum and its collection. Based on research with museum curators, makers and users of the textiles in Italy and Germany, Poland and Romania, the book provides intimate insights into how objects are mobilised to very different social and political effects. It sheds new light on movements across borders, political uses of textiles by fascist and communist regimes, the objects’ fall into oblivion, as well as their heritage and tourist afterlives. Addressing this complex museum legacy, the book suggests new pathways to prefigure the future.

About the author: Magdalena Buchczyk is a Junior Professor in Social Anthropology of Cultural Expressions at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She conducts ethnographic research on collections, material culture and intangible heritage. 

Viktoria Tkaczyk: Thinking with Sound – A New Program in the Sciences and Humanities around 1900

Viktoria Tkaczyk is Professor of Media and Knowledge in the Department of Media Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Thinking with Sound undertakes a historicisation of auditory neuroscience, an interdisciplinary field of research that is currently expanding rapidly. The book traces how the identification of the auditory cortex in the neuroanatomy of the 1860s inspired very different disciplines to new theories of a “thinking in sound images”.

Ferdinand de Saussure interpreted the “acoustic image” as the key to human language, Sigmund Freud approached the human psyche via the auditory unconscious, for Henri Bergson imaginary sounds proved the independence of the mind from physical perception, Ernst Mach declared comparative listening to be the central method of experimental physics, Carl Stumpf started from culturally shaped ideas of sound and used them for comparative cultural studies.

In its various forms, the topos of “thinking in sound images” connected an academic landscape at the turn of the 20th century that split into increasingly specialised fields of research. In the process, disciplines in the humanities and natural sciences exerted a literally disciplining influence on the ways of speaking, listening and thinking of their time – supported by numerous new media technologies, but also closely linked to colonial, imperial and national political programmes.

Further information about the publication.

New volume in the series „Bildwelten des Wissens“

Bildwelten des Wissens – volume 18.
Museale Reste. 

Edited by Nina Samuel and Felix Sattler

Remnants are a challenge for the museum as an institution. They are ambiguous figures, and their attributions open up and thus contribute to transcending the taxonomic, disciplinary, architectural, and institutional boundaries of museums. They can be found everywhere—in exhibition spaces as well as storage depots, and in laboratories just as in the administration. In each of these contexts, there are respectively different forms of professional self-conception, knowledge, and practical handling that determine the status of remnants.

The volume contributes to specifying terms such as remnant, trash, traces, and boundaries more precisely within the context of the museum and to reassessing them for debates in conservation, curating, art history, and museum anthropology.

Available as Open Access publication (PDF)

Museale Reste Publikation

Margareta von Oswald: Working Through Colonial Collections. An Ethnography of the Ethnological Museum in Berlin

Reckoning with colonial legacies in Western museum collections

What are the possibilities and limits of engaging with colonialism in ethnological museums? This book addresses this question from within the Africa department of the Ethnological Museum in Berlin. It captures the Museum at a moment of substantial transformation, as it prepared the move of its exhibition to the Humboldt Forum, a newly built and contested cultural centre on Berlin’s Museum Island. The book discusses almost a decade of debate in which German colonialism was negotiated, and further recognised, through conflicts over colonial museum collections.

Based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork examining the Museum’s various work practices, this book highlights the Museum’s embeddedness in colonial logics and shows how these unfold in the Museum’s everyday activity. It addresses the diverse areas of expertise in the Ethnological Museum – the preservation, storage, curation, and research of collections – and also draws on archival research and oral history interviews with current and former employees. Working through Colonial Collections unravels the ongoing and laborious processes of reckoning with colonialism in the Ethnological Museum’s present – processes from which other ethnological museums, as well as Western museums more generally, can learn.

With a preface by Sharon Macdonald.

Ebook available in Open Access.

Absent Presences in the Colonial Archive. Dealing with the Berlin Sound Archive’s Acoustic Legacies by Irene Hilden

Irene Hilden’s PhD thesis on the Berlin Sound Archive (Lautarchiv) is now available, published by Leuven University Press.

The book focuses on sound recordings produced under colonial conditions. It examines sound objects and listening practices, revealing the “absent presences” of colonial subjects who are given little or no place in established national narratives and collective memories.

Irene Hilden is postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage (CARMAH), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Ebook also available in Open Access.

Captured Voices. Sound Recordings of Prisoners of War from the Sound Archive 1915–1918 by Britta Lange

The cultural studies scholar Britta Lange researched sound recordings of male prisoners of war from the Sound Archive of the Humboldt University of Berlin produced in German camps during the First World War by scientists of the Royal Prussian Phonographic Commission. In this book, she traces the voices that are preserved today on shellac records. Each chapter constitutes a new encounter and raises complex questions: How can the historical testimonies not only be heard but also be listened to today? And what forms of translation do they demand? Captured in multiple ways, the voices in this comprehensive study not only reveal their historical making as sound recordings, but also reflect contemporary interpretations of archival and scholarly practice. The English e-book includes a streaming feature for the sound recordings co-produced by Britta Lange and Sebastian Schwesinger. It is translated from German by Dr. Rubaica Jaliwala as part of a grant from the Deutscher Übersetzerfonds.

Britta Lange’s book Gefangene Stimmen is now also available in English as an e-book titled Captured Voices, translated by Rubaica Jaliwala as part of a grant by the Deutscher Übersetzungsfonds.

The Royal Model Chamber of the University of Göttingen

Analysis of the historical practice of a university teaching collection, including the objects that still exist today.

Author: Oliver Zauzig.

This research paper is about the königliche Modellkammer (Royal Model Chamber) of the University of Göttingen. This historical teaching collection has left numerous traces to this day. Despite the professionalisation of the collection’s work and the constant integration of the models into the university curriculum of the Faculty of Philosophy, especially applied mathematics, appropriate conditions of use existed almost at no time.
In the 1880s, the collection was dissolved, and the process of dissolution is documented in detail in the files. In addition, 24 models from the former collection have been preserved until now.
The structure and scope of the Göttingen Model Chamber correspond to the universal model collections of the time, whose origins can be found in courtly, municipal and bourgeois art chambers. Models and model collections for example were used for purposes of demonstrating power, for planning and designing, as patterns, for playing and experimenting, but above all in teaching and education. In addition to researching the everyday practice of historical collection work, the focus is on investigating curricular use with the royal model chamber.
To this end, some of the historical models of the collection that still exist today were examined in detail, analysed, questioned in relation to their historical curricular practice and individually contextualised. Especially through the encounter with the objects, a variety of questions emerged.
Ultimately, the numerous gaps in information that inevitably open up when researching the everyday use of the historical teaching collection through written material and objects force a predominantly heuristic approach.

To the publication (edoc).

Kältebilder. Ästhetik und Erkenntnis am Gefrierpunkt

Kältebilder. Ästhetik und Erkenntnis am Gefrierpunkt (Ed. Matthias Bruhn)

Bildwelten des Wissens – Band 17
Edited by Katja Müller-Helle, Claudia Blümle, Horst Bredekamp and Matthias Bruhn

As means of preservation, low-temperature technologies have always been of paramount importance to humankind’s culture, but it was not until the industrial age that processes of artificial cooling were developed, which soon became a fundamental element of civilization.
Henceforth, it shaped the production and form of knowledge: Frozen motion became a metaphor for slowed recording; modern computing or various imaging techniques required cryogenics. Forms of ice-cold observation, however, are contrasted by losses of visibility due to frost or precipitation, just as the artificial lowering of temperatures continues to fuel climate change precisely through its energy consumption. In every respect, cooling technology is reaching new all-time heights and lows – with extensive consequences for knowledge and perception.

Video-Clip: Kältebilder (YouTube)

ePub – Open Access – Kältebilder. Ästhetik und Erkenntnis am Gefrierpunkt (PDF)

© Bruhn, Matthias. Kältebilder: Ästhetik und Erkenntnis am Gefrierpunkt, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2021.
Dieses Werk ist lizenziert unter der Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Lizenz.
e-ISBN (PDF) 978-3-11-074761-4


Eine Frage der Perspektive. Objekte als Vermittler von Wissenschaft

The book title “Eine Frage der Perspektive” addresses several highly topical issues at the same time: On the one hand, the volume negotiates the gain of knowledge from an object through its mere contemplation; on the other hand, it is precisely the change of perspective on an object that helps to formulate scientific working hypotheses and theories. The volume illustrates how today’s perspectives are taken into account when old objects and their collection contexts are examined under new ethical and moral values. Thus, the classic object topics in this volume are joined by the view of provenance research, artistic object debate, autoethnographic object description, and the question of how broadly the concept of a museum object can be defined at all and how categorization and naming should be done accordingly. The object histories included here, in particular, cut a wide swath from research content to its mediation. This volume brings together eleven contributions by young scholars from the fields of museology, archival studies, ethnology, the history of physics, medicine, theater, human anatomy, mathematics education, geology, paleontology, and the liberal arts. They all focus on the consideration of collection objects from different perspectives. The contributions clearly show that objects can convey science excellently, often more vividly than texts or images can. Object-based knowledge transfer promotes a representational and thus often more easily understandable science. This link from object to research to reflection on research is the strength of this fifth volume of the Young Forum for Collection and Object Research.


Frank D. Steinheimer
Waltraud Mudrich 
Sarah Fetzer
Daniel Falk
Michael Stache
Anja Weber
Sophia Gräfe
Julia Bärnighausen 
Henrike Stein
Beate Eismann
Leonie Braam
Hannes Junker
Sara Müller
Johanna Lessing

To the publication: