...to the website of Dr. Corinna Erckenbrecht.

Corinna Erckenbrecht is a cultural anthropologist and oceanist based in Cologne, Germany.

She is an expert in the anthropology of Australian Aborigines and has a deep knowledge of the Aboriginal collections held at European museums. Given her experience in indigenous Australian studies, her expertise in museum studies concerning German and European institutions, her knowledge of the history of European artefact collecting in Australia and her experience with the European museums that hold artefacts from this area she is an important contact point for anyone from Australia interested in developing linkages related to this field.

Corinna Erckenbrecht has many years of work experience at ethnological museums, foremost at the Museum of Ethnology in Cologne, as well as teaching experience at various German universities. She has published widely about her work in research and the results. At present she works as a free-lance ethnographic consultant and researcher. 

Short Vitae

Corinna Erckenbrecht started studying cultural anthropology, geography, political sciences and archaeology at the University of Marburg in 1982 and transferred to the University of Freiburg in the next year. There she began to focus on Aboriginal Australia and in 1986 travelled to Australia for the first time doing research for her M.A. thesis. After finishing her M.A. in 1988 she returned to Australia in 1989 conducting fieldwork in northern N.S.W. for her Ph.D. thesis. In 1992 she received her Ph.D. from the Freiburg university with a thesis on gender relations in Aboriginal Australia and was awarded a faculty price for her work in 1994.

While a university student she already worked as an intern at ethnological museums, for instance at the Museum of Ethnology in Bremen 1987 and at the Museum of Ethnology in Freiburg 1988, working with the collections from Aboriginal Australia at both places. 

From 1994 to 2007 Corinna Erckenbrecht was involved in several different projects at the Museum of Ethnology in Cologne (“Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum für Völkerkunde”):

  • the special exhibition about gender relations in cross-cultural perspective (“Sie und Er. Frauenmacht und Männerherrschaft“, 1997) including editorial work for the 2-volumes catalogue;
  • the documentation and re-organization of the 20 000-item collection from Oceania including beginning the new database (Access);
  • the collection from Aboriginal Australia in connection with newly available historical documents from the German (physical) anthropologist Hermann Klaatsch, who collected more than 2000 ethnographic artefacts during his 3-year journey around Australia at the beginning of the 20th century. This 3-year research project at the Cologne museum was financed by the Fritz Thyssen Research Foundation in Cologne.

Since 2008 Corinna Erckenbrecht is also involved in research concerning cultural artefacts from the Wet Tropics of North Queensland. She was a member of the research project “Histories of collecting Cultural Artefacts in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area” at the James Cook University in Townsville (School of Arts and Social Sciences) in 2008. From 2011 to 2013 she is a Senior Research Associate in the ARC-funded research project "Objects of Possession: Artefact Transactions in the Wet Tropics of North Queensland, 1870 - 2013" (Discovery project) at the James Cook University. She is conducting research at German and European museums, archives and scientific institutions concerning artefact collections from the Wet Tropics, relevant collectors, their publications, historical documents and photographs, their artefact collections, and the historical, political and scientific background of artefact collecting, display and documentation at German and European museums.