Conexión Humboldt | ГУМБОЛЬДТ-КОННЕКШН
“He was interested in an integrative connection with cultures“
Foto: David von Becker
Ottmar Ette, Berlin“The crucial point with Humboldt is simply that he did not see other cultures as alien. He didn't perceive them as other cultures, not as alterity. He understood immediately that beyond the differences there is a multifaceted relationship between what one can call one's culture of origin and what is happening in other cultures. In the 18th century, people in Europe felt clearly superior to all other non-European cultures. Cultures outside Europe were other cultures: an alterity that was established. This is not the case at all with Alexander von Humboldt. In his American travel diaries, Humboldt has discarded and overcome his initial racist beliefs inherited from Europe. One can already clearly see during his journey that he saw other cultures as additional cultures. He was interested in expansion, in an integrative connection with cultures. And I think the various discourses that are emerging today would be central to his ‘intellectual nourishment’”.
Ottmar Ette With numerous publications in the field of cultural and literary studies, Ette is regarded as a doyen of Humboldt studies. Since 1995 he has held a chair in Romance Studies at the University of Potsdam. He leads the research project on the evaluation of Humboldt's American travel diaries.