The World of the Kxoé Bushmen

“The World of the Kxoé Bushmen” – The Khwe Collection by Oswin Köhler

Institute(s): Goethe-Universität

Financed with funds from the project executing agency: Dec. 2016 – Nov. 2017 as pilot project

Project collaborators

Dr. Gertrud Boden
Prof. Dr. Alexander Mehler
Lisa Gleiß
Giuseppe Abrami

External Partners

Oswin-Köhler Archive


Between 1959 and 1992, the Africanist Oswin Köhler (1911-1996) undertook a total of 22 research trips to the Khwe (in his spelling: Kxoé) in north-eastern Namibia. The material collected during the travels forms an integral source and documentation unit of original texts with German translations and annotations, sound and image documents, ethnographica, plant samples and drawings as well as communication and other material files. Köhler’s main work on the Khwe is an encyclopaedia comprising twelve parts in five volumes, entitled “Die Welt der Kxoé-Buschleute” (The World of the Kxoé Bushmen), in which he intended to deal with all cultural areas in original-language texts (previously published: Köhler 1989, 1991, 1997).

The aim of the CEDIFOR pilot project is to digitally map the Köhlers Khwe universe or Köhlers Khwe ontology, as it has developed over time and manifested itself in the various types of data, and to make it accessible online. A data structure is to be developed for this purpose, which on the one hand can map the history of the individual outline and text versions and on the other hand can map content-related references between texts and other data types. Furthermore, it is to be tested and shown in an exemplary manner how the encoding of the manipulations carried out on the data and their temporal sequence can be used to obtain computer-based queries on decisive phases of Köhler’s exploration of the language and culture of the Khwe as well as on the influence of individual Khwe informants on the representation of their language and culture.


OWLnotator (