The commemoration: Humboldt 250


Ideas can only be useful if they come alive in many minds
— Humboldt to Ludwig Bullmann, Cumaná (Venezuela), 13 October 1799)

On the occasion of the celebration of Humboldt’s 250th anniversary in 2019, numerous events are being prepared on both sides of the Atlantic.

Even over 200 years after his expedition through the Spanish possessions in America (1799-1804), Alexander von Humboldt is well remembered in Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and the United States. This great appreciation of the Prussian explorer and naturalist also extends to those parts of the New World that he did not visit.

However, there are several key questions that arise in the context of this commemoration:

«The idea of the colony itself is an immoral one, that idea of a country committed to duty to another»

—Diaries, Guayaquil (Ecuador), January 4th - February 17th, 1803—

  • How can we define Humboldt´s key achievements?

  • What is Humboldt's most important legacy in America?

  • How does his perception differ between the countries in the New World?

  • What are the critical issues that have been raised regarding the Prussian explorer in those regions?

  • What can we still learn from him while facing the challenges of our world today?

In my function as expert of the research programme “Culture and Foreign Policy” at the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations in Stuttgart (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen), during the year 2018 I carried out a research project in order to provide advice in the context of the initiative “Humboldt y las Américas”, initiated by the German Federal Foreign Office.

This project examines the Prussian’s potential for German foreign cultural and educational policy, and discusses the opportunities and challenges it offers for this thematic season in America.

The outcome of this project will be published in German and Spanish under the title::

Perception of Humboldt in Iberoamerica: Chances and challenges of a thematic season

I am currently also collaborating as a scientific consultant with the Humboldt Forum in Berlin, preparing the inauguration of the Berlin City Palace for Humboldt’s birthday celebration in September 2019.

In addition, at the time of writing general counseling in the context of the Humboldt 250 commemoration has been carried out for the following institutions:

  • The German Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

  • Casa Cultural Colombo-Alemana, Cartagena de Indias

  • Asociación Humboldt/Goethe-Zentrum, Quito

  • Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt, Bogotá

  • Goethe Institut, Bogotá

  • Museo de la Ciudad de Quito

In the context of the Humboldt 250 conmemoration I can provide the following services:

«Man must want the good and the big, the rest depends on fate»

Humboldt to Johann Karl Freiesleben, La Coruña, 4 June 1799

Lectures

  • General lectures, aimed at a non specialized audience, on Humboldt and his American expedition, his scientific project and his legacy today for our modern world.

  • Academic lectures focusing on Spain’s role in Humboldt’s project, his visit to the United States and his impact on American science, Humboldtian Science, the connection between Humboldt and Jefferson, his scholarly networks and his position between science and politics, etc.

Consultation

  • Consultation and guidance regarding the content and format of scientific, cultural or artistic activities in the context of the Humboldt 250 celebration.

Workshops

 

All activities can be offered in German, English or Spanish language. For more information, please feel free to contact me.