History of the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology
The history of social and cultural anthropology at the University of Zurich begins in 1886 with the habilitation of Dr Otto Stoll, a medical scientist and researcher on Central America, submitted in Ethnography and Anthropology. Dr Stoll was co-founder of the Ethnographic Society of Zurich and became the first director of the Collection for Völkerkunde. In 1891 he was appointed to the newly created chair for geography.
With the creation of the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology (Ethnologisches Seminar) and of the Ethnographic Museum (Völkerkundemuseum) in 1971, anthropology established itself as an independent discipline in Zurich. Professor Lorenz Löffler was appointed to the new chair for Ethnologie. Professor Karl Henking held a chair at the museum and became its first director.
Much progress was made at the department under Professor Löffler’s guidance between 1971 and 1995. Among the topics he was particularly committed to were economic, ecological, political and legal anthropology, kinship and gender studies, ethno-psychoanalysis, social movements, ethnicity and the anthropology of development.
At present there are two chairs at the department while two further chairs are currently vacant. Professor Peter Finke and Professor Shalini Randeria continue to develop social and cultural anthropology in Zurich through research and teaching on contemporary issues. While Asia has become the department’s key regional focus, staff do research and teach on other areas of the world including Europe as well.