Eudell, Demetrius

Core Areas

Black Studies; nineteenth-century U.S. history; slavery and emancipation in the Americas; history of ideas

Project: The Enlightenment of Christoph Meiners

My current research project examines selected works authored by Christoph Meiners (1747-1810), a professor of Weltweisheit at the Universität Göttingen, in the context of the German Aufklärung and the wider Enlightenment in Europe. Although the subject of a few monographs authored in German as well as some extensive essays in French, Meiners remains an understudied figure in English language scholarship. He was controversial during his own life time, primarily due to his theories of the origin and value of human differences, which found him in conflict with thinkers such as Johann Blumenbach and Georg Forster. Having published more than forty monographs and nearly a couple hundred articles on a range of themes, Meiners garnered a fair amount of professional success and in some contexts was indeed highly regarded. His writings spanned an array of themes, including works in the genre of universal history, a four-volume history of women, a biography of the humanist (and Reformer) Ulrich von Hutten, several histories of religion and also of antiquity, and in the eighteenth-century tradition of travel narratives, journals of his travels in Europe. My project aims to situate the work of Meiners within the proto-disciplinary context of academic historical writing as well as the then emergent field of ethnography/ethnology, two fields of knowledge to which the Universität Göttingen would make distinctive contributions.

Recent publications

  • “The Landscapes of Man: Ecological and Cultural Change Before Hurricane Katrina” in Bernd Sommer, ed., Cultural Dynamics of Climate Change and the Environment in Northern America in series Climate and Culture vol. 3, Carmen Meinert and Claus Leggewie, eds. (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 159-186.
  • “‘Come on Kid, Let’s Go Get the Thing’: The Sociogenic Principle and the Being of Being Black/Human” in Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis, Katherine McKittrick, ed. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015), 226-248.
  • “The Monocultural Origins of Multiculturalism” in The New Dynamics of Identity Politics in the Americas: Multiculturalism and Beyond, Olaf Kaltmeier, Sebastian Thies, Josef Raab, eds. (London: Routledge, 2014), 13-37.