International Encyclopaedia
of the Histories of Anthropology

The German ethnologist Erika Sulzmann (1911-1989) studied ethnology in Frankfurt and then in Vienna during the Nazi period. With the support of the regime’s institutions, she began to create a “tribal map of Africa”, but it was after the fall of the Third Reich that she obtained her doctorate in 1947 and became one of the first researchers at the newly created Institute for Völkerkunde at the University of Mainz, which she helped to build. Sulzmann led the Mainz expedition to Congo (1951-1954), followed by other research trips to the Congo Basin in the following decades. She focused on social structures and power relations from a historical perspective among the Mongo, particularly among the Bolia and Ekonda ethnic groups. Sulzmann, a somewhat obscure character, represents an intellectual and political challenge for the historiography of anthropology.

Keywords: Völkerkunde | Colonialism | National-Socialism | Germany | Austria | Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) | Belgian Congo/Democratic Republic of the Congo | African Studies | African civilizations | Mongo | Cultural history | Cultural diffusion and migrations

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