Decolonizing history and anthropology is often presented as a theoretical enterprise, through which a more rigorous and inclusive framing of historical precepts will deliver a clearer and less Eurocentric understanding of the past. Yet it is arguably necessary to decouple decolonization from the broader practices of anti-Eurocentric historiography. Via an empirical assessment of the legacy of Hermann Klaatsch, a German anthropologist working on the colonial frontier, this article examines the possibilities and limitations of a decolonizing approach to settler colonial history. The article reflects upon its own study of colonial anthropology and the historical complexity of the repatriation of Indigenous human remains, and suggests that not all anti-Eurocentric interrogations of the colonial past are synonymous with decolonization.
- Hermann Klaatsch
- colonial frontier