Short Portrait: Carl August Schmitz

Carl August Schmitz
Carl August Schmitz

Carl August Schmitz was born in Cologne in 1920. After finishing school he was forced to join the German Army during World War II and eventually became a prisoner of war.

Disbanded in 1945 Schmitz took up his studies at the University of Cologne. Anthropology, Sociology and Theatre Arts were his subjects. Carl Niessen, Martin Heydrich, Fritz Graebner and René König were among his teachers.

Schmitz graduated with a Ph D thesis on cult sites Melanesia in 1955. Subsequently he conducted his first field work in the north-eastern part of New Guinea in 1955/56. Moreover, Schmitz completed his habilitation thesis based on his field research in 1958.

In 1960 Schmitz took up a position at the Anthropological Museum (now: Museum of Cultures) in Basel, Switzerland. Two years later he was announced associated professorat the Basel University. Since 1964 he chaired the museum. Besides lecturing and curating, Schmitz worked on a number of publications concerning anthropological fields such as kinship and religion.

In 1965 Schmitz became head chairman of the Frobenius-Institute in Frankfurt/Main, being the successor of Adolf E. Jensen. Moreover, he was announced ordinary for Anthropology at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Frankfurt University and became head chairman of the Ethnological Museum in Frankfurt (which is today the Museum for the Cultures of the World).

Carl August Schmitz died in Frankfurt in 1966.

(Text written by Vincenz Kokot in July 2012, based on Stagl, Justin, 2001, "C.A. Schmitz - ein Betriebsunfall am Frobenius-Institut?", Paideuma, ed. 47, pp. 25 - 42; photo from 1966 by courtesy of Wolfgang Lindig)

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