by Juliana Ketting
Ethnology is a cultural anthropology term which first came to use in 1783 under the penmanship of Adam František Kollár. Kollár was born in 1718 and was known for his role as a Slovak juror, Imperial-Royal Court Councillor, Chief Imperial-Royal Librarian, historian, and early Ethnologist. His ability to speak 27 languages, including Slovak, Russian, English, and Latin, and his desire to edit and refurbish numerous manuscripts and earliest volumes from the Imperial-Court Library made him an early student of ethnology. Kollár described ethnology as, “the science of nations and peoples, or, that study of learned men in which they inquire into the origins, languages, customs, and institutions of various nations, and finally into the fatherland and ancient seats, in order to be able better to judge the nations and peoples in their own times” (Taylor). The practice first began in an attempt to gather and compare information on non-European communities who did not have information on their own cultural heritage. Kollár is occasionally contradicted by historians who believe the more general definition of ethnology, by Alexandre César de Chavannes from 1787, was the first occurrence of the concept. Chavannes believed that ethnology was “the history of peoples progressing towards civilization.”(Taylor) The term, ethnology, broadly refers to the interest in how aggregations of human beings and cultures became distinct from one another. The scientific practice does so by studying the distinctions of humans from each other based on culture, language, religion, morals, or societal structures. By the end of World War II, the term “ethnology” had altered to define the practice of anthropology. As Weltz notes, in the twenty-first century, the term has fallen under the umbrella term “Cultural Anthropology” in the United States, and as “Social Anthropology” in Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries Ethnology uses the information collected by a set number of ethnographies in order to examine cross-culture comparisons between two or more societies.
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