KOPPERS, Wilhelm

KOPPERS, Wilhelm. Menzelen near Xanten, Rheinland 8.2.1886 — Vienna 23.1.1961. German Ethnologist, Catholic Priest and Theologian in Austria. Professor in Vienna. He joined early the Society of the Divine Word (Societas Verbi Divini, S.V.D.) and was educated at its gymnasium in Steyl, Netherlands. Member of the Society 1908.Studies of philosophy and theology at Missionshaus St.Gabriel in Mödling, Niederösterreich, and in Rome. Ordained as priest 1911. In 1913 joined the editorial staff of the Anthropos, from 1914 studied ethnology and Indology (Sanskrit under B. Geiger, also IE under Kretschmer)at Vienna University. Student and close collaborator of P. Wilhelm Schmidt. Ph.D. 1917 Vienna. In 1921-22 fieldwork among Indians in North and South America, especially in Tierra del Fuego(with M. Gusinde). From 1924-31 editor of the Anthropos and PD at Vienna. From 1928 ao. and from 1930 ord. Professor of Ethnology at Vienna(Völkerkunde, only now separated from physical anthropology), in 1929 cofounder of Institut für Völkerkunde. Dismissed by the Nazis in 1938, he emigrated 1939 to India and did fieldwork there, financed by Rockefeller Foundation. In 1940 he came to the new base of Anthropos near Fribourg, Switzerland. Returned to Austria in 1945, he was again Professor and Director of Institut für Völkerkunde in 1945-57, then retired, but continued teaching.

Koppers was a student of Schmidt and originally adopted all his methods and theories, but later on, especially after WW II became more independent and criticized some of Schmidt’s ideas (e.g. the Kulturkreislehre). He was much interested in prehistory and origins.

Publications: Unter Feuerland-Indianern. 8+243 p. 22 pl. St. 1924.

– “Kulturkreislehre und Buddhismus. Eine Neuorientierung des Problems”, Anthropos 16-17, 1921-22, 442-458.

– “Die Religion der Indogermanen in ihren kulturhistorischen Beziehungen”, Anthropos 24, 1929, 1073-1089;; “Die Indogermanenfrage im Lichte der historischen Völkerkunde”, Anthropos 30, 1935, 1-31; “Urtürkentum und Urindogermanentum im Lichte der völkerkundlichen Universalgeschichte”, Belleten 20, Istanbul 1941, 482-525.

Die Indogermanenfrage im Lichte der historischen Völkerkunde. Neue Wege zur Lösung. 787 p. Wiener Beitr. zur Kulturgesch. und Linguistik 4. St. Gabriel/Mödling bei Wien 1935.

– “Der Hund in der Mythologie der zirkumpazifischen Völker”, Wiener Btr. zur Kulturgesch. u. Linguistik 1, 1930, 359-399; “Pferdeopfer und Pferdekult der Indogermanen”, Wiener Beitr. zur Kulturgesch. und Linguistik 4, 1936, 279-411;.

– “Bhagwan, the supreme deity of the Bhils”, Anthropos 35-36, 1940-41, 265-325; “The Monuments to the Dead of the Bhils and Other Primitive Tribes of Central India”, Annali Lateranensi 6, 1942, 117-206, 61 ill..

– “Probleme der indischen Religionsgeschichte”, Anthropos 35-36, 1940-41, 761-814;

– With L. Jungblut: “Betrothal Rites among the Bhil of North-Western Central India”, Art. As. 9. 1946, 5-33; “Wedding Rites among the Bhil of North-Western Central India”, Anthropos 46, 1951, 113-139.

– Geheimnisse des Dschungels: Eine Forschungsreise zu den Primitivstämmen Zentral-Indiens 1938–39. 238 p. 36pl. 5 maps. Luzern 1947.

Die Bhil in Zentralindien. 20+353 p. 16 pl. Wiener Beitr. zur Kulturgesch. und Linguistik 7. V. 1948.

Der Urmensch und sein Weltbild. Vienna 1949.

– With M. Weniger: Physisch-anthropologische Untersuchungen an einiger Stämmen Zentralindiens. 156 p. 5 pl. Acta ethnologica et linguistica 3. Vienna 1952.

– Further articles and reviews.

Sources: Bihl 169f.; A. Burgmann, Anthropos 56, 1961, 721-736 with photo; C. von Fürer-Haimendorf, Man 61, 1961, 140 with photo; *R. Heine-Geldern, Almanach Ö.A.W. 111, 1962, 347-364; *J. Henninger, Mitt. Anthr. Ges. Wien 19, 1961, 1-14; V. Kokot in http://www.germananthropology.com/short-portrait/wilhelm-koppers/375 with photo; *J. Madey, Biogr.-bibliogr. Kirchenlexikon 4, 1992, 509-511; D.B.E. 6, 1997; German Wikipedia.

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