Short Portrait: Hans-Joachim Paproth

Hans-Joachim Paproth
Hans-Joachim Paproth

Hans-Joachim Paproth was born in Königsberg/Ostpreussen (now: Kaliningrad,/former Eastern Prussia) in 1942. During World War II, his family had to flee west and resettled in North Rhine-Westphalia. After finishing school in 1958, Paproth did an apprenticeship in order to become a bookseller.

He worked in this profession for several years while simultaneously attending lectures on Anthropology at the university in Uppsala, Sweden. Moreover, Paproth visited courses on Anthropology at the Abo Academy and developed a growing interest in the ethnic groups of the circumpolar region.

Besides doing field research among the Saami people, he studied a number of Scandinavian languages as well as Russian and Japanese. Paproth also did comparative studies of the economic and religious aspects of bear hunting in several northern regions of the world. After successfully passing exams in 1968 and 1971 he completed his Ph D thesis in 1978.

In 1977/78 Paproth held an assistant position at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms University Bonn and began lecturing. Since his Ph D thesis completed in Scandinavia was of equal value to a habilitation thesis in Germany, Paproth received the academic degree of professorship in 1978. Two years later he was announced professor at the university in Bonn.

In 1984 Paproth took up a professorship at the Institute for Ethnology and African Studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich. His expertise on the northern regions of Eurasia and America broadened the anthropological knowledge at the institute.

Paproth combined his regional focus with his interest in theoretical, historical and methodological aspects of the Anthropology of Economics and the Anthropology of Religion. Furthermore, he advocated interdisciplinary scientific work such as the research on Ethnobotanic.

Hans-Joachim Paproth died in Wangen/Allgäu in 2007.

(Text written by Vincenz Kokot in March 2012, based on an obituary in: Zeitschrift fur Ethnologie No. 132, 2007; photo source:

further informationfurther information