Franckesche Stiftungen: Knowledge production and archiving

Root Event

6. Werkleitz Biennale Common Property / Allgemeingut
Franckesche Stiftungen: Knowledge production and archiving
2. 9. 2004


Matthew Buckingham (KünstlerIn), Matthew Buckingham (RespondentIn)
Britta Klosterberg (RespondentIn), Britta Klosterberg (WissenschaftlerIn)
Anke Mies (RespondentIn)

The Franckesche Stiftungen date back to the social and missionary work of August Hermann Francke, the main representative of Pietism in Halle. At the end of the 17th century, Francke began building up an art and natural-history collection (the so-called Wunderkammer). It had a pivotal function in the three-stage education of the children in the Stiftung’s orphanage and was continuously expanded up until the mid 19th century. The system of knowledge, which was initially structured along spiritual and phenomenological lines, was subsequently restructured several times before the collection lost its function as an educational instrument at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, one can find in the archive of the Franckesche Stiftungen more than 30,000 hand-written records of missionaries’ journeys to India. As was just recently discovered, they contain valuable information on traditional Indian curative treatments, which in India itself were only passed on as applied knowledge and were then forgotten after Western medicine was introduced by the colonial powers.

During the GDR period, the building complex accommodated the Arbeiter- und Bauern-Fakultät (ABF – the Workers’ and Farmers’ Faculty), which as a specialised promotional institution prepared students from a working-class background for studies abroad in Socialist states. The story of the first workers «delegated to study» is told in Hermann Kant’s novel ‹Die Aula›.

The history of the Franckesche Stiftungen – with the Wunderkammer, as a kind of early modern museum, and the missionary archive, which today is becoming increasingly important in economic terms as a resource of rare knowledge – can be read in an exemplary way as the history of Eurocentric knowledge production, acquisition and archiving.

Invited participants are: Matthew Buckingham, artist, Britta Klosterberg, head of the study center, Franckesche Stiftungen, Anke Mies, librarian, Franckesche Stiftungen