In the 1860s, a wide variety of European expeditions culminated in Abyssinia, combining knowledge production, scientific communication, politics, and material enrichment. But the chosen period of study is not only characterized by exorbitant European activities in the Abyssinian Empire. This time frame also allows for the observation of early forms of science management and communication when the practice of science was becoming academically professionalized.
While this led to the exclusion of certain actor groups from ‘professional’ sciences, exploration studies remained an outlier, allowing for various actors to contribute; a phenomenon further influenced by the birth of European travel tourism to Africa. To which extent did these often contrasting developments lead to the obscuring or stabilisation of hierarchies among the actors involved with expeditions? And which practices did they employ in the field?
Based on three profoundly distinct but closely-linked European expeditions to Abyssinia, the project analyses the encounter of the involved groups of actors, the trans-European networks associated with them, and their practices of collection of artefacts, knowledge production and (science) management and communication. Also, the use of violence in its different manifestations in the encounters on the spot will be a vocal point of the analysis.
Image: Theodor von Heuglin, Route von Adua nach Gondar (draft map). Gotha Research Library/Perthes Collection, SPK 40.20.a A (03), Bl. 8 (CC BY-SA 4.0).