European Ethnology and Intercultural Communication


“European Ethnology” was proposed as a name of our discipline in Arnhem in 1955. Although it is now used in several European countries, it is still unclear what the name really denotes and what distinguishes it from “Folklore”, “Ethnography”, “Cultural Anthropology” or “Ethnology”. The article attempts to determine the position of European Ethnology and to outline some of its goals and tasks: While folklorists largely focus on the study of their own, national folk cultures, and ethnologists on the study of alien, exotic cultures, European Ethnologists should concern themselves with the study of both “own” and “alien” European cultures and their interrelations and interactions, both from the emic and the etic perspectives. Thus, on the macro-level, comparative and interethnic studies should be a main concern, while on the micro-level, face-to-face inter cultural communication should become an integral object of European Ethnology. It is argued that the problems resulting from increased culture contact caused by migrations, by the European Union, by globalization etc. make the application of ethnological knowledge to the solution of these social problems indispensable – and make new demands on European Ethnologists.

How to Cite

Roth, K., (1996) “European Ethnology and Intercultural Communication”, Ethnologia Europaea 26(1), 3-16. doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Klaus Roth (Universtität München)



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