Research and Documentation Platform for Academic Legacies of German and International Researchers in African Languages

The Oswin Köhler Archive contains the complete academic legacy of Oswin R. A. Köhler (1911–1996) as well as parts of the academic legacies of other scholars of African languages. The archive is the central research and documentation platform for studies in African languages at the Goethe University. The custody and valorization of these academic legacies offers the opportunity of critically investigating the research history of German Afrikanistik which in large parts is still a desideratum.

Khwe from Namibia in the Oswin Köhler Archive

The Oswin Köhler Archive at the Institute of African Studies houses the world's most comprehensive collection of documents on Khwe language and culture. In August 2023, four Khwe from Namibia came to Frankfurt for a three-week workshop and worked collaboratively with researchers on the collection. They further got to know the collection database and discussed options of access. At their request, six posters were designed for a mobile exhibition on Khwe culture as well as a booklet with historical photographs selected and annotated by the visitors. With these materials, they want to inform young Khwe in Namibia about the cultural practices and values of their ancestors. The three-week stay was financially supported by the Centre for Interdisciplinary African Research (ZIAF) at the Goethe University.

We mourn the loss of Snelia Mangonga (1982-2023), who died in a car accident on 1 October 2023, shortly after returning to Namibia. Our thoughts are with her family.

Workshop on the perception and description of environmental features

During their visit to the Oswin Köhler Archive at Goethe University in August 2023, Thaddeus Chedau, Sonner Geria, Snelia Mangonga and Hendrik Mbangu from Namibia's Bwabwata National Park also took part in a three-day workshop in the Nationalpark Eifel. The other participants were employees of the Nationalpark Eifel as well as scholars of the Goethe University, the University of Cologne and the Ruhr University Bochum. The workshop was initiated by Dr Gertrud Boden and included indoor and outdoor exercises exploring how people with different biographies and backgrounds orient themselves in a more or less familiar environment, which units and contexts they perceive and how they describe and categorize them. The workshop is part of the DFG-funded project "Potentials of a Collection", which, among other things, examines to which degree the academic categories used in describing the collection correspond to the environmental experiences of members of the collection's community of origin.

Link to press release of the Eifel National Park:

Besuch aus namibischem Bwabwata-Nationalpark im Nationalpark Eifel | Details | Nationalpark Eifel (


Oswin R. A. Köhler (1911-1996)
August Klingenheben (1886-1967)        
Heinz Sölken (1912-1980)
Otto Rößler (1907-1991)
Franz Rottland (1934-2014)
R.M.R. Hall (1927-1996)
Werner Vycichl (1909-1999)
Alfred Jungraithmayr (1933-2016)


Oswin Köhler at work in the Dikundu research camp in Namibia