> Anthropologists and ethnographers 


Barth, Heinrich (1821-1865)

Coordinated by Anke Fischer‑Kattner -

Universität der Bundeswehr München

German self-made ethnologist Heinrich Barth (1821-1865) first specialized in historical geography and is best known for his exploratory trips to the Sahara and West Central Africa (1849-1855). On his return to Europe, he wrote a travel narrative which was very rich in information on languages, trade, politics and the history of West African societies, now considered an ethnographic masterpiece. At the time, however, its success was limited. He died at the age of 44 without having obtained the university chair he coveted. Barth personifies the conflict between the complex experiences of African life and the rigid intellectual framework of late imperialism.

Keywords: Geography | Amateur ethnographer | Explorer | Ethnography | Colonialism | 19th century | Germany | Western Central Africa | Sahara | Timbuktu | Sudan (Bilad as Sudan) | Islam