La stratigraphie d’une vie consacrée à la préhistoire. L’abbé Hugo Obermaier, sa chaire de l’Institut de paléontologie humaine et les fouilles du Castillo
Title: La stratigraphie d’une vie consacrée à la préhistoire. L’abbé Hugo Obermaier, sa chaire de l’Institut de paléontologie humaine et les fouilles du Castillo
Author: LANZAROTE GUIRAL, José María
Citation: Henry DE LUMLEY and Arnaud HUREL (eds), Cent ans de préhistoire : L'Institut de Paléontologie Humaine, Paris, CNRS Editions, 2011, 65-82
The aim of this article is to reflect on the personal and intellectual biography of the geologist and prehistorian Abbot Hugo Obermaier (1877-1946), appointed as the first professor of Geology applied to Prehistory at the IPH in 1911. Obermaier’s work was crucial for the early development of the Parisian institution. In particular, he directed the excavation of the Palaeolithic site of El Castillo (Spain) until 1914, when the outbreak of the First World War brought his professional engagement with the IPH to an end. From then on, Obermaier pursued his scientific career in Spain, and he became the first professor of Primitive History of Man at the University of Madrid in 1922. Thanks to his capacity to cross borders (whether geographical, linguistic or disciplinary) and his vast scholarly network, he played a critical role in international research. His working life coincides with the half a century in which prehistorians constructed the disciplinary identity of their field, affirmed their academic status and developed the scientific practices that define it to this day; Obermaier was a key actor in this process. Looking at the different layers of his scientific biography allows us to tackle several broader issues, such as for instance, the tension between an international science and the creation of national frameworks of research, and the science-religion debate.
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