Interview Erhard Schlesier

This conversation with Professor em. Erhard Schlesier took place on May 30, 2008 at his home in Göttingen.

Born in 1926 in Chemnitz in what later became East Germany, Professor Schlesier tells us about how his education came to a halt when he was drafted as a 17-year-old. He was 19 years old when he was released from captivity and decided to stay in the West. Lack of intellectual stimulus led him to do the university entrance qualification and to enter university; after reading a book by Diedrich Westermann, he “catches fire” and takes up the study of Völkerkunde in Göttingen in 1948. Studying under Spannaus and Plischke, he first studies Africa, later changes to Oceania. Outside the main lectures, he reads the British Social Anthropologists as well as Thurnwald and Mühlmann, later also Jensen, all of whom influence him in his later work. His academic career leads him from Göttingen to Hamburg and back again before he leaves for his first fieldtrip to Normanby Island in Papua New Guinea.

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