Indexing and Digitizing of the Archival Material on Ethiopian Studies of the Frobenius Institute
Project duration: 1. September 2014 - 31. August 2017
Head of project: Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Kohl, staff: Dr. Sophia Thubauville, Dr. Sabine Dinslage, Kim Glück M.A.
Over a 60-year period (1935 - 1994) the research of the Frobenius Institute specialised on southern Ethiopia. The focus of its outstanding scientists - amongst others A. E. Jensen, Eike Haberland and Ulrich Braukämper - centred on the regions of Konso, South Omo, Sidamo, Wolayta, Dizi and Hadiya.
The enormous amount of ethnographic material that was collected back then (Haberland in 1963, Jensen in 1936 and Straube in 1963), including 200 geographical and ethnographical cards, 60 film reels, 15,000 photos and drawings as well as the legacies of Jensen and Haberland (comprising of various documents such as travel reports, letters, notebooks and unpublished ethnographies) reveals this very special interest in southern Ethiopia.
The surviving material from these research trips represents a unique documentation of southern Ethiopia, for both ethnographical and historical reasons. It had been collected in an area which at that time had not yet been fully explored and also where the proselytization of the local population by foreign missionaries had not yet started. The proselytization that occured during the 1960s, in addition to the socialistic regime which ruled Ethiopia between 1974 and 1987, introduced radical cultural and social changes for the population of South Ethiopia. The anthropologists of the Frobenius expeditions were amongst some of the few scientists who had the chance to document southern Ethiopia before these changes.
The objectives of this project are the indexing and sustainable archiving of this surviving research material and the making available of these documents to the public in an open access database and via user-friendly portals. Until now almost all of the material had been inaccessible and only available in German language. By digitizing it and feeding it into a German and English computer database, the material will be accessible to an international audience for the first time.
In addition the project plans an exchange of knowledge between Ethiopian academics and local experts. In this environment the archived material will be discussed, commented upon and utilized for further research. The results of this collaborative work will be fed into the database and will provide a unique digital record of the research material, which will have great importance for the ethnography and history of southern Ethiopia.