Menu Expand

Geschichtete Vergangenheit

Die Suche nach der Urbevölkerung Europas im 19. Jahrhundert

Deuerlein, Martin

Kulturwissenschaftliche Zeitschrift, Bd. 2023 (2023), Iss. 3: S. 140–176

Zusätzliche Informationen

Bibliografische Daten

Deuerlein, Martin


Who were the original inhabitants of Europe? And how did they relate to contemporary populations on the continent? Such questions immensely fascinated contemporaries during the 19th century. This article argues that the ensuing search for the indigenous peoples of Europe was closely intertwined with colonial discourses and practices. By the 1830s, the ›ethnic interpretation‹ of the results of comparative philology suggested that multiple waves of immigration had replaced indigenous Europeans with ever more advanced peoples. This ›migrationism‹ and an ethnically stratified image of prehistory that had emerged by the 1880s had profound political implications for both intra-European ethnic relations and colonial interactions: Narratives derived from the European past that understood cultural and physical change as the result of clashes between different ›races‹ helped legitimize colonial expansion, painting the conquest, displacement, and annihilation of colonized peoples as a mere continuation of timeless mechanisms of humanity’s cultural and physical evolution.