Luschan, Felix von°

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LUSCHAN, FELIX VON ° (1854–1924), German archaeologist, ethnologist, explorer, and anthropologist. Von Luschan studied at the universities of Vienna and Paris and then joined the Berlin Museum fuer Voelkerkunde, of which he was the director from 1904 until his death. He undertook numerous expeditions to the Balkans, North and South Africa (especially Benin), and New Guinea and Anatolia. In 1881 he began anthropometric work in Lycia in western Asia and for three decades continued to assemble data on the physical evolution of man there. On the basis of his research and studies of the cephalic indices of a large number of Jews, Von Luschan came to the conclusion that the notion of a distinct Jewish race was fallacious. Early in his career he formulated a theory that the Jewish people was racially an amalgam of Semites, Hittites, and Aryan Amorites, a view he later recanted after it was espoused by antisemites like Houston Stewart *Chamberlain.

Von Luschan energetically combated all forms of racism and in his Voelker, Rassen, Sprachen (1922), particularly attacked antisemitism. Writing from the anthropological perspective, he rejected the notion of the biological inferiority of any given race and criticized the popular confusion of such distinct, autonomous entities as race, nationality, and culture.


ess, 9 (1933), 631. add. bibliography:

L. Knoll, Felix von Lu schanErgaenzungen und Beitraege zu biographischen Daten eines Pioniers der Ethnologie (2004); A. Zeller, Felix von LuschanSeine Bedeutung fuer die Beninforschung (2004); M. Melk-Koch, "Zwei Oesterreicher nehmen Einfluss auf die Ethnologie in Deutschland – Felix von Luschan and Richard Thurnwald," in: B. Rupp-Eisenreich and J. Stagl (ed.), L'anthropologie et l'Etat pluriculturel (1995), 132–40.

[Ephraim Fischoff]