Hans Peter Hahn

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Hans Peter Hahn


Hans Peter Hahn is Professor of Anthropology with special focus on Africa at Goethe University of Frankfurt /M. His research interests are oriented towards material culture, consumption and the impact of globalization on non-western societies. He edited a book on “Ethnologie und Weltkulturenmuseum” (Vergangenheitsverlag, Berlin 2017), focussing on the history of museums with ethnographic collections. He is principal investigator in a research programme on virtual interfaces on museum collections (2017-2020), where the perception of things in their digital representation is under study. Until recently, he was speaker of the research training group “Value and Equivalency” at Goethe-University. In this context, he participated in the organization of several exhibitions on human action and materiality. Other ongoing research initiatives are linked with polysemic approaches to material culture studies. HP Hahn’s recent publications include an edited volumes entitled “Obstinacy of Things” (Neofelis 2015) and “Things as a challenge “(transcript 2018).



The concept of ethnicity is one of the most fundamental and at the same time most effective notions of societies in the history of the sciences. Ethnicity is not only constitutive, it has also led to misunderstandings, which in turn have enabled the legitimization of violent confrontations. There are numerous notions of ethnic identity, some of which competed with each other, some of which followed each other. This lecture will explain two fundamental models from the early phase, from the time of the emergence of archaeology and ethnology. One of these concepts refers to the principle of territoriality and long duration. It states in principle that a group whose culture can be demonstrated unchanged for a comparatively long time in a particular place also has a stable ethnic identity. The other concept to be explored in this lecture assumes that ethnic groups emerge from mixing ratios and that such mixtures lead to specific configurations of historically and spatially observable cultures. At the end of the 19th century, these two concepts were in competition with each other, with the first of the two evidently gaining greater popularity, paving the way for the devastating catastrophes of twentieth-century nation-state politics.

Selected publications:

  • Hahn, Hans P. (2017) Ethnicity as a Mode of Social Organization. In Gori, M. und M. Ivanova (Hg.) Balkan Dialogues. Negotiating Identity between Prehistory and the Present. London Routledge, S. 23-39.
  • Hahn, Hans P. (2018) Pots on the Move become Different Emplacement and Mobility of Pottery, Specific Properties of Pots and their Contexts of Use. In Heitz, C. und R. Stapfer (Hg.) Mobility and Pottery Production. Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives. Leiden Sidestone, S. 293-314.