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Past Special Exhibitions

Die Klassifizierung der Welt - Universitäres Sammeln im kolonialen Kontext

We hereby cordially invite you to the opening of the special exhibition „ Die Klassifizierung der Welt – universitäres Sammeln im kolonialen Kontext “.

The opening ceremony will take place on 1 September 2022 at 5 p.m. in the lecture hall of the Hermann Hoffmann Academy at JLU Giessen.

Die Klassifizierung der Welt

Welcoming speech :       Prof. Dr. Joybrato Mukherjee, President of JLU Giessen

Introduction :                 Prof. Dr. Bettina Brockmeyer; Prof. Dr. Magnus Huber

followed by drinks and a tour of the exhibition with the curators

About the exhibition:

The special exhibition, which will be on display in the Palm House of the Botanical Garden from 1 September - 16 October 2022, highlights exhibits from the collections of Justus Liebig University Giessen that found their way to the University of Giessen in the course of university activities in colonial contexts or through colonially inspired collection activities. The focus is on four thematic sections that shed light on different collections at the university in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Collection of Classical Antiquities:

In the early 20th century, objects from various excavation expeditions found their way into the Collection of Classical Antiquities, which considerably expanded its holdings. Thus, finds from Egypt, which was under British control, and from the Ottoman Empire, which was economically dependent on the German Empire, also reached Giessen, including the imperial donation of finds from Heinrich Schliemann's Troy excavations.

The Botanical Garden:

The director of the Botanical Garden, Adolf Hansen, and his horticultural inspector Friedrich Rehnelt travelled to Sri Lanka, the then British colony of Ceylon, at the beginning of the 20th century to transfer plants and seeds in large quantities to Giessen. The "spoils" can still be reconstructed today in the Hansen-Rehnelt herbarium and in photographs.

The Special Collections of the University Library:

The provenance of the University Library's Sinhalese palm leaf manuscripts from Sri Lanka can be traced back to the donors. The objects illustrate how these cultural testimonies were acquired by private individuals in the late 19th century, partly as souvenirs, without being able to classify them in terms of content.

Linguistics Section:

In the context of colonisation, languages also came into contact with cultures. The section deals with pidgin English as a lingua franca in German colonies and its relationship to German. In addition, the instrumentalisation of language for the construction of white superiority as a legitimisation of colonisation is examined.

At the same time, the exhibition is the prelude to an examination of the colonial past at Justus Liebig University and ties in with the current debate on how to deal with European colonialism, which is currently in full swing in Germany and neighbouring countries. The museums and also the university collections contain objects that originate from the time of high imperialism and the colonies that existed at that time. Increasingly, therefore, questions are being asked about where the objects in the collections come from and the provenance of the objects is being researched, as is currently the case at the Oberhessisches Museum (current exhibition: "Zwischen Sammelwut und Forschungsdrang. Colonial Contexts in Giessen" from 06.05.2022-15.01.2023).

The idea for the exhibition originated among the members of Justus Liebig University in the commission "Koloniales Erbe in Hessen", which was initiated and funded by the Hessian Ministry of Science and Art and formed by the Conference of Hessian University Presidents, which bundles the scientific expertise of Hessian universities on the topic.

The exhibition team consists of Prof. Dr. Bettina Brockmeyer (Institute of History), Dr. Joachim Hendel (University Archive), Prof. Dr. Magnus Huber (Institute of English Studies), Prof. Dr. Katharina Lorenz (Chair of Classical Archaeology), Dr. Olaf Schneider (Special Collections of the University Library), Dr. Michaela Stark (Custodian of the Collection of Classical Antiquities), Dr. Alissa Theiß (JLU Collection Coordination), Lutz Trautmann M. A. (University Archive) and Prof. Dr. Volker Wissemann (Chair of Special Botany).