Stefan Burmeister

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Stefan Burmeister


Stefan Burmeister studied Prehistoric Archaeology, Cultural Anthropology and Geography at the University of Hamburg. In 1999 he received his doctorate on age, gender and power in the Hallstatt period in southern Germany. He worked for many years in rescue archaeology and at the University of Hamburg in an international research project on Anglo-Saxon migration. Since 2000 he has been working in museums as exhibition curator; since 2007 at the Varus Battle Museum in Kalkriese. Since 2017 he is in Kalkriese head of the archaeological department, since 2020 director of Museum und Park Kalkriese. He has published numerous books and scientific articles on topics such as migration, technology and innovation, war and conflict, and theories in archaeology.


“Culture” is a key concept of various sciences. But even after more than 100 years of established cultural studies, there is no consensus on a general definition of the term. So what is culture? How can the concept help to understand societies and how can it help to understand historical processes? Do we see cultures as closed systems, for which reason culture is rather a straitjacket that does not advance our understanding of group relations and ultimately serves only the hierarchical separation of the others? From order to subordination? But is culture really so static and suppressive? Culture is in constant change. It is created, conveyed, appropriated, and adapted and changed according to social requirements. In lived social practice it is a creative negotiation that runs counter to the homogeneity model.The culture concept has the potential to analyse social change and social interaction, especially in multicultural societies. However, this potential has been put at a standstill in political as well as in large parts of scientific discourse. Our modern understanding of culture stems from the national discourse of the 18th and 19th centuries. Here a concept was developed that had a clear nationalistic and essentialist agenda that was inscribed into the scientific DNA of history and later archaeology – and is still determining the discourse today.

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