Anthropology and Ethnology During World War II

The Activity of Sektion Rassen- und Volkstumsforschung Institut für Deutsche Ostarbeit in the Light of New Source Materials

Edited by Małgorzata Maj, Marcin Brocki, and Stanisława Trebunia-Staszel. Translated by Katarzyna Dorota Diehl.

Jagiellonian University Press

Anthropology and Ethnology During World War II

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Pub Date: October 2019

ISBN: 9788323345626

288 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $60.00£47.00

Anthropology and Ethnology During World War II

The Activity of Sektion Rassen- und Volkstumsforschung Institut für Deutsche Ostarbeit in the Light of New Source Materials

Edited by Małgorzata Maj, Marcin Brocki, and Stanisława Trebunia-Staszel. Translated by Katarzyna Dorota Diehl.

Jagiellonian University Press

The volume presents a collection of texts describing contemporary research findings into the documentation of the Sektion Rassen und-Volsktumsforschung of the Institut für Deutsche Ostarbeit (IDO)—a Nazi-led institution that was established in occupied Poland during World War II.

The research project was carried out by anthropologists from the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology together with representatives of other disciplines: historians, sociologists, and physical anthropologists from Jagiellonian University. The studies and papers are based on an analysis of a vast body of documents and photographs. It is first of all a vast collection of sources connected with research carried out by Sektion Rassen-und Volkstumsforschung IDO, kept at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. The authors refer as well to previously unknown documents discovered during queries conducted over the last few years. The available sources provide greater insight into the activities of the Institut für Deutsche Ostarbeit as well as make it possible to verify the existing information concerning the character of research carried out by Sektion Rassen-und Volkstumsforschung.

The book contains a rich number of illustrations: Photographs, medical and anthropological questionnaires, psychological tests, and questionnaires containing sociological and ethnographic information not only help visualize, but in a significant way complement the text of the publication.
After reading this voluminous and, contrary to what the title might suggest, engaging study, I have no doubt that it is a great scientific achievement. Firstly, the authors managed to develop an approach to the otherwise sensitive subject of the IDO heritage that enables a cool, albeit not entirely distanced way of looking at the history of a certain institution, as well as at the entanglement of many people in its activity. The fact that the institution was established in dark times, and, in addition, by Hans Frank, should not a priori put it in the context of regular Nazi propaganda and degenerated science. The authors managed to separate what in the IDO output was based on objective research from what could never be defined as scientific. Secondly, the high level of competence of the papers in this tome makes one confident about the applied methods of presentation and interpretation of the available material, which, moreover, is still subject to further verification. This publication is not yet the final outcome of several years of research and queries, but a stop-over, an important one, on the way to further work, which is signaled throughout the book. So it is an example of work in progress. Wojciech Józef Burszta, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw

About the Author

Małgorzata Maj is an ethnologist in the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Jagiellonian University, Poland. She specializes in the ethnology of Poland and the Balkans. Her interests are focused on traditional folk culture as well contemporary phenomena. She is currently carrying out a research project on Nazi racial and ethnographic research during World War II.

Marcin Brocki is an ethnologist and cultural anthropologist, assistant professor, and head of the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at Jagiellonian University in Krakow. His recent publications include Anthropology as Social Critic: Its Public Role in the Globalized World (Jagiellonian University Press, 2018). He is the editor-in-chief of the journal Ethnographic Works and the series Jagiellonian Studies in Cultural Anthropology and Anthropos.

Stanisława Trebunia-Staszel is an ethnologist at the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at Jagiellonian University. She is interested in museology, folk culture, and cultural heritage with special regards to the processes of constructing, practicing, and enhancing local, regional, or ethnic identity. Since 2008, she has been conducting research on the Nazi ethnic and racial studies in occupied Poland as exemplified by activities of the Institut für Deutsche Ostarbeit.