Short Portrait: Johannes W. Raum

Johannes W. Raum
Johannes W. Raum

Prof. Dr. em Johannes W. Raum was born in 1931 in Bumbuli, Tanzania. His father, Otto Raum, was a social anthropologist and africanist. Moreover, his grandfather had worked as a missionary in Africa, where he also did anthropological and linguistic research. In 1934 Raum and his family moved London. Four years later, they relocated in South Africa, where Raum eventually finished school.

In 1950 Raum took up his studies at the University of Cape Town. Due to his interests he chose History as his major subject, as well as German Philology. Raum initially planned to become a teacher but also developed a growing interest in Anthropology. He chose English and Social Anthropology as his further subjects. Monica Wilson, Leonard Thompson, Jack Simons and A.J.H. Goodwin were among his teachers. In 1952 Raum completed his Bachelor of Arts. A year later he received his Master of Arts in History.

Eventually Raum moved to Germany, where he began to study Educational Sciences at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich. He also attended courses on Psychology and History. Moreover, Raum began to visit lectures on Anthropology at the Institute for Ethnology and African Studies. In 1962 he completed his PhD thesis on Educational Sciences.

After a brief period of working as a teacher, Raum took up an assistant position at the Institute for Ethnology and African Studies in Munich in 1963, where Hermann Baumann held a full professorship. Raum not only was responsible for translation work and the library but eventually began lecturing (e.g. on Social Anthropology , Anthropology of Law, kinship etc.). Moreover, he became secretary of the German Association of Anthropologists(Deutsche Gesellschaft für Völkerkunde, DGV).

In 1974 Raum completed his habilitation thesis and eventually took part in a research project at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (Zentrum für Interdisziplinäre Forschung, ZIF) in Bielefeld. After his return to Munich, Raum became an associated professor at the Institute for Ethnology and African Studies. Moreover, he held a visiting professorship at the Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology in Tübingen in 1979.

Since 1980 Raum held a full professorship at the Institute for Ethnology and African Studies in Munich, where he lectured on a wide range of topics. He retired in 1997.

Raum passed away March 4th, 2014. The death notice was adorned with the following phrase: "Woza, sibuyele KwaZulu lapho abanto befa bekhuluphene!" (Come, lets go tu Zululand, where men die stoutly)

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