Friedrich Hermann Otto Finsch (1839-1917), a German born in Polish Silesia under Prussian rule, was a self-taught ethnologist, museum curator and ornithologist, known during his lifetime for his keen ethnographic observations and his collection skills. Today he is particularly noted for his involvement in the colonial annexation of the Bismarck Archipelago and part of New Guinea by Germany. Much remains to be discovered about the theoretical dimensions, including a form of cultural relativism before the term was coined, underlying his extensive work on the peoples and societies of the Pacific.
“A ‘Perceptive Observer’ in the Pacific: Life and Work of Otto Finsch”
Hilary Howes, 2018
Friedrich Hermann Otto Finsch (1839-1917) is best known today for his involvement in the German colonial annexation of northeast New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago. A self-taught ornithologist, ethnologist and museum curator, he was recognised in his own lifetime as a “perceptive observer” and “collector par excellence”, but struggled to gain traction for his interpretations of Pacific peoples and societies amongst his formally trained (...)