Scope and Content of Collection
Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla 92093-0175
Title: Géza Róheim Papers
Róheim, Géza, 1891-1953
Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0046
0.8 Linear feet
(2 archives boxes)
Date (inclusive): 1929 - 1953
Abstract: Papers of Géza Róheim, a Hungarian anthropologist who applied psychoanalytic techniques to cultural studies. The collection
includes drafts of writings and research materials, including transcriptions of the dreams and stories of Australian aborigines,
and a vocabulary of the Normanby Islanders.
Scope and Content of Collection
Papers of Géza Róheim, a Hungarian anthropologist who applied psychoanalytic techniques to cultural studies. The collection
includes drafts of writings and Róheim's research materials. The research papers document Róheim's field studies in Australia,
Normanby Island and the southwestern United States, and include transcriptions of the dreams and stories of Australian aborigines,
a vocabulary of the Normanby Islanders, and Freudian-influenced observations of Navajo families. None of the materials are
dated, but it is probable that the papers were created between 1929 and 1953. This estimate is based on the subject matter,
type of paper, and general condition of the materials.
Arranged into three series: 1) WRITINGS, 2) RESEARCH MATERIALS and 3) ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES.
Géza Róheim considered himself a professional anthropologist, although many see his work as an example of the Freudian school
of psychoanalytic theory. He is credited as one of the first to apply psychoanalysis to the study of world cultures.
The scion of an affluent Hungarian family, Róheim was born in Budapest in 1891. He took an early interest in literature and
history, later receiving formal training in geography and anthropology. In addition, he studied psychoanalytic theory under
Sandor Ferenczi, one of the pioneers in the field. Travelling to Germany prior to World War I, Róheim pursued his professional
education in anthropology at the universities of Leipzig and Berlin. Also in Germany, he came under the influence of the theories
of Sigmund Freud. Róheim returned to Hungary and, in 1919, became the first professor of anthropology at the University of
Budapest, a post he held until 1938.
Throughout the 1920s Róheim remained primarily an academic anthropologist. However, in 1929, he embarked on a lengthy field
expedition that would last until 1931. Financed by Marie Bonaparte (Princess George of Greece), the field trip was originally
designed to apply psychoanalytic theory to the aborigines of Central Australia. Róheim expanded the original plan to include
journeys to the Melanesian island of Normanby, plus short trips to Somaliland and Arizona. In his field work, Róheim focused
primarily on the individual member of a community or culture. He used many techniques that were not common in contemporary
anthropology, including dream analysis and the analysis of children's play activities.
In 1938 Róheim escaped the political turmoil in Europe and emigrated to the United States. He worked briefly, during 1938,
as a clinician at the Worcester State Hospital in Massachusetts. He then moved to New York City, where he entered private
practice and continued his writing. In 1940 he lectured at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. Although he took short field
trips to study the Navaho Indians in the southwestern U.S., Róheim remained in New York City until his death in 1953.
Róheim was primarily a theoretician, although his theory was always based on rigorous observation and study. He was one of
the first anthropologists to successfully apply Freudian theories to the analysis of cultures. His "ontogenetic theory of
culture" is considered a major contribution to his field. In this theory, Róheim contended that cultural differences were
largely the result of an individual's childhood traumas. The childhood experiences of the individual, he thought, were ultimately
reflected in adult personality and in the collective institutions of a given culture.
Róheim stated his theory most clearly in his work
The Origin and Function of Culture, published in 1943. Among his other works, the most notable are
Australian Totenism (1925),
Animism, Magic, and the Divine King (1930),
The Eternal Ones of the Dream (1945),
Psychoanalysis and Anthropology (1950), and
The Gates of Dream (1952).
After Róheim's death, many of his works were collected and published by anthropologist Werner Muensterberger. Muensterberger's
Magic and Schizophrenia (1955),
The Panic of the Gods and Other Essays (1972) and
Children of the Desert : The Western Tribes of Central Australia (1974).
[Sources: Paul A. Robinson,
The Freudian Left : Wilhelm Reich, Géza Róheim, Herbert Marcuse (New York: Harper and Row, c1969); George B. Wilbur and Warner Muensterberger, eds.,
Psychoanalysis and Culture : Essays in Honor of Géza Róheim (New York: International Universities Press, c1951).]
Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.
Géza Róheim Papers, MSS 46. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.
Original research papers in box 2, folders 2 and 3 are restricted until 2068 to protect the privacy of observed subjects.
Redacted versions are available. Materials deemed to brittle for use have been moved to the ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES
series and may be restricted.
The collection was donated to the UC San Diego Library by Werner Muensterberger, who received the materials from Róheim himself.
The collection contains only a small fraction of the papers Géza Róheim probably created and collected.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Aboriginal Australians -- Psychology
Aboriginal Australians -- Folklore
Navajo Indians -- Psychology
Normanby Island (Papua New Guinea) -- Languages
Ethnology -- Papua New Guinea -- Normanby Island
Dreams -- Case studies
Psychoanalysis and culture
Róheim, Géza, 1891-1953 -- Archives