Short Portrait: Hans-Jürgen Heinrichs

Hans-Jürgen Heinrichs
Hans-Jürgen Heinrichs

Dr. Hans-Jürgen Heinrichs was born in Wetzlar in 1945, after his family had to flee from Gdansk (Danzig) in World War II. When Heinrichs was four years old, the family moved to Rhineland-Palatinate, where he eventually attended school before doing an apprenticeship in order to become a steel fitter. As a young man Heinrichs not only developed a strong interest in traveling and undertook several journeys in Europe but also got intensely involved with literature.

In 1969 Heinrichs took up his studies in Cologne and Rome, namely the subjects Philosophy, German Language and Literature as well as Dramatics, since he had a strong interest not only in Theater but also in modern philosophers like Wittgenstein and Adorno. Moreover he also took courses on Linguistics, Psychology and African Studies.

Heinrichs eventually also studied Anthropology but his access to this subject was mainly a self-teaching one, strongly influenced by the works of Michel Leiris, Victor Segalen and Claude Lévi-Strauss. Heinrichs not only learned French in order to read these authors in their original language but also had a growing interest in the ideas and concepts of Structuralism and Psycho-Analysis which he helped spreading in the german intellectual scene. The ethno-poetic work of Hubert Fichte was another big influence for Heinrichs broad theoretical interest.

While studying Heinrichs also deepened his own writing and in 1970 started to send out his first manuscripts, mainly to ethnographic journals and publishing houses. He not only wrote prose but also essays and books on authors like Bachofen or Lacan. Moreover he did reviews on current anthropological publications for a number of magazines and newspapers throughout Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In 1977 he completed his graduation thesis about new approaches in Anthropology and Psycho-Analysis.

From 1978 ongoing Heinrichs has given various academic lectures on a wide range of topics (Ethno-Poetics, Visual Anthropology, etc.) at several universities, e.g. in Frankfurt a.M., Zürich and Graz. In 1980 he founded the »Qumran« publishing house and released the work of several authors (e.g.Hubert Fichte, Joseph Beuys, MArcel Mauss) as well as some of his own books. After selling the publishing house in 1984 Qumram became an own edition of the renowned Suhrkamp publishing house.

Through the following years Heinrichs not only constantly published his own work but also kept giving academic lectures. Moreover he worked for the german radio broadcast and organized symposia.

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