Dorothea McEwan: Discovering Schimper – Observations on Tigre


CFEE Seminar Past and Present: History, Memory and Heritage

Séance exceptionnelle / Special session: Discovering Schimper – Observations on Tigre, by Dorothea McEWAN

Jeudi 26 novembre 2015, 14h-16h, Bibliothèque d’études éthiopiennes Berhanou Abebe (CFEE) / Thursday 26th November 2015, 2-4 PM, Berhanou Abebe Library of Ethiopian Studies (CFEE).

Presentation of:

Georg Wilhelm Schimper – in Abyssinia. Observations on Tigre

Edited by Andreas Gestrich and Dorothea McEwan in collaboration with Stefan Hanß, critical online edition, 2015.

Discovering Schimper. The Georg Wilhelm Schimper website (a  lecture introducing the website), by Dorothea McEWAN

The German Georg Wilhelm Schimper was one of the foremost nineteenth-century botanists specializing on Northern Africa. He spent most of his life in what is now Ethiopia, collecting and describing plants, their habitats and the ways they were used by the local people. Like his famous relative, the Strasbourg-born botanist Andreas Franz Wilhelm Schimper, Georg Wilhelm Schimper was a forerunner of modern plant ecology.

Schimper made botanical collection trips throughout Tigray and Northern Ethiopia from 1837 to 1878. He sent plant specimens to his friends in Europe who then sold them on to botanical collections. He wrote an extensive report on his observations made in the course of his trips, two manuscript books with his research findings not only on the plants of Northern Ethiopia, but also on the ethnography, geology, geography, mineralogy, meteorology, food production and politics of Northern Ethiopia as well as many interesting linguistic data. The manuscript books, kept in The British Library, London, present an extremely valuable source for several disciplines interested in the area.

The manuscript books were rediscovered in 2008 by Dr Dorothea McEwan and are presented in a critical online edition in both the original German version and an English translation. Many of Schimper’s plant specimens are now digitized and accessible online allowing to link text, maps and digitised specimen of the herbaria in this modern Open-Access electronic edition.

The edition is a co-operative project by the British Library, the German Historical Institute London, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The speaker

Dorothea McEwan is a honorary fellow of the Warburg Institute, University of London. See her bibliography here:

Organisateurs du séminaire / Convenors of the seminar series: Belete Bizuneh (AAU, History Dept.), Deresse Ayenachew (Debre Berhan University, History and Heritage Management Dept.), Thomas Guindeuil (CFEE), Margaux Herman (CFEE/IMAF), Kindeneh Endeg (AAU, IES), Shiferaw Bekele (AAU, History Dept.).

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