National Schools of European Ethnology and the Question of "Latent Ethnicity"


In 1984, French and German ethnologists convened in Bad Homburg to discuss the specificities of their research traditions. They came to the insight that beneath the level of differences in the scientific discourse, there are wast domains of cultural differences, diverging habits and emotional dispositions.These are summed up by the author as “latent ethnicity”.
We might point out differences among national ethnologies on the level of “intellectual style” (different ways of theory-formation and argumentation, diverse routines and ethics of scientific discourse etc.) and on the level of conceptualization and terminology. For the latter, Norbert Elias’ explication of the different social background and significance of French civilisation and German Kultur is a classic example. A third kind of differences are caused by different pasts, and the diverging working up of the past.
To avoid misunderstanding among ethnologists, a careful examination of cultural backgrounds, positions and intentions is suggested. European ethnology of the future can be imagined as a “network of perspectives”, in which every national or regional group can make conscious use of its cultural specificity.

How to Cite

Hofer, T., (1996) “National Schools of European Ethnology and the Question of "Latent Ethnicity"”, Ethnologia Europaea 26(2), 89-96. doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Tamás Hofer (Museum of Ethnography, Budapest)



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