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Franz Boas Discuss the Contribution of Anthropology Essay

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Franz Boas has been considered by many as the "Father of American Anthropology", as he was a pioneer in breaking down the American isolationism, intolerance and misinformation about and biological diversity and linguistics.

Born in Minden, Westphalia, Germany, in 1858, from a Jewish family, Boas early thinking was based on the ideals of the 1848 German revolution and followed his parents’ intellectual freedom (Stocking, 1974). However, Boas did not set out with the specific ambition to study human cultures, and after attending the universities of Heidelberg, Bonn and Kiel, in 1881 he earned a PhD. in Physics, with a minor in geography. Marked by the influence of Rudolf Virchow,
who led the founding of the Berliner Gesellshaft für Anthropologie, Ethnologie und Urgeschichte (Berlin Society of Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory), his academic formation gave Boas a strong liberal tradition and an attitude towards race, which rejected the theories that recognized the existence of racial hierarchies based on cultural differences (Stocking, 1974). In 1883, as part of his training at the University of Heidelberg, Boas set out on his first expedition with the two gains of mapping the Canadian Arctic coastline and indulging his new interest in culture, which as a result of the journey, became interest in finding what determines human behaviour. "A year of life spent as an Eskimo among Eskimos", Boas (1938, p. 202) said, "had a profound influence upon the development of my views, […] because it led me away from my former interests and towards the desire to understand what determines the behaviour of human beings." His study of indigenous people, of their appearance, their language and traditions, allowed him to overcome the concept...


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...type: the photograph of Franz Boas. Visual Communication, 12 (1): 123-142.

MacDonald, K. (1998). The Boasian School of Anthropology and the Decline of Darwinism in the Social Sciences. In, MacDonald, K., The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements. California State University: Long Beach, pp. 20-50.

Boas, F. (1930). Anthropology. In, Seligman, E. R. A. ed., Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences. Macmillan: New York.

Pink, S. (2006). Engaging the Visual: An Introduction. In, Pink, S., The Future of Visual Anthropology: Engaging the Senses. Routledge: New York, pp. 3-20.

Stocking, G. W. Jr. (1982).From Physics to Ethnology. In, Stocking, W. G. Jr., Race, Culture, and Ethnology: Essays in the History of Anthropology. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago, pp. 134-160.




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