Short Portrait: Hans Fischer

Hans Fischer
Hans Fischer

Hans Fischer was born in Grottkau/Upper Silesia in 1932. At the end of World War II his family had to flee west and resettled on an island in East Frisia. During his school years Fischer developed an interest in foreign cultures, languages and music.

After finishing school Fischer took up his studies of Anthropology in Hamburg in 1951. Anthropology, Musicology and Phonetics were his subjects. Franz Termer and Kunz Dittmer were among his teachers.

Fischer graduated with a Ph D thesis on the instruments of Oceania in 1956. Subsequently, Fischer did a practical training at the Ethnological Museum Hamburg for two years. Furthermore, he conducted field work in New Guinea.

In 1959 Fischer took up an assistant position at the Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology at the Eberhard Karls-University Tübingen. The newly founded department was chaired by Thomas S. Barthel. Besides taking care of many tasks such as establishing the anthropological library, Fischer also began working on his habilitation thesis. He completed it in 1963 and subsequently began lecturing in Tübingen.

In 1965 Fischer did his second field work in New Guinea. Two years later he took up a professorship at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology in Hamburg. Moreover, Fischer was head chairman of the Ethnological Museum Hamburg between 1967 and 1971. Throughout the following decade he did further field researches, e.g. in New Guinea, Hawaii and Micronesia.

Hans Fischer held his professorship for Anthropology at the Hamburg University until his retirement in 1998 and kept lecturing at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology until 2002. From 2002 until 2008 he continued his lectures at the Ruprecht-Karls University Heidelberg.

While his regional focus lay on Oceania, Fischers field of interests includes topics such as the History of Anthropology, Material Culture, Field Work Methods and the Anthropology of Kinship.

(Text written by Vincenz Kokot in June 2012, based on an article by Fischer, Hans, 2001, "Fünfzig Jahre Ethnologie", Paideuma, ed. 47, pp. 7 - 23; photo source:


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