Anthropology and modern life Free PDF book (1962) by Franz Boas

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Anthropology and modern life Free PDF book (1962) by Franz Boas

Anthropology and modern life Free PDF book
Anthropology and modern life Free PDF book (1962) by Franz Boas

Franz Boas, the eminent cultural anthropologist discusses the relation between race and culture; nationalism; international relations; interracial relations; and the comparison of primitive culture with modern civilization.

I, What Is Anthropology? II. The Problem of Race 18 III, The Interrelation of Races 63 IV, Nationalism 81 V, Eugenics 106 VI, Criminology 122 VII, Stability of Culture 132 VIII, Education 168 IX, Modern Life and Primitive Culture 202

Excerpt from the book’s introduction:

For Boas, “doing something” always meant using his science in the cause of man. His object was the enlightenment of mankind through anthropology. He was a tireless lecturer, although he disliked public appearances and partial paralysis made speaking difficult for him. He was an indefatigable contributor to scientific journals and mass media, and a constant writer of “‘ letters to the editor.” As a teacher his influence was inestimable.

He established anthropology as an academic discipline in America. Alexander F. Chamberlain, his student at Clark University, won the first doctorate in anthropology to be granted by an American university, and for more than forty years almost every anthropologist in America came directly or indirectly under Boas’ influence. Among his students in the early days at Columbia were such distinguished anthropologists as Alfred L. Kroeber, Robert Lowie, Alexander Goldenweiser, Edward Sapir, Clark Wissler, Paul Radin, and Leslie Spier. During the twenties, Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, Melville J. Herskovits, and Otto Klineberg were all Boas students, as> well as a host of less well-known scholars who set up departments and conducted research in all parts of the world. As a teacher Boas was a stern taskmaster; he made no concessions to ignorance.

He gave students no reading lists or other aids; he opened his course in Biometrics with the statement, “I assume that you all know the calculus. If not, you will learn it.” In his seminar he assigned books in Dutch or Portuguese; no student would dare to say to Boas, “I don’t read Dutch.” Somehow or other the student learned to cope. Boas rarely suggested subjects for dissertations; a student who had been studying anthropology for two years and had found no problem he wished to pursue was not worth bothering with. He would discuss general problems with students, but would not criticize or look at unfinished work. His criticisms were terse — “You have entirely missed the point” — and he almost never praised.

One had to be tough, independent and dedicated to surviving. He was a formidable teacher and a formidable man. Yet, in spite of his apparent aloofness he was deeply concerned about his students, their lives and their careers, but generally in terms of what he thought was good for them. Although he valued autonomy, he was frequently high-handed. He arranged field trips and wangled jobs for students without consulting them and was deeply hurt if they refused to accept his arrangements. But he never wavered in his loyalty to students, however much he might disapprove of them. And his students, on their part, though some of them quarreled bitterly with him on theoretical and personal grounds, never lost their respect and loyalty. An esprit de corps united the group that shared the struggle to establish their science and communicate their ideas. It would be hard to duplicate today the ties that bound student to teacher and student to fellow student.

Author: Franz Boas 
 Publication Date: 1962

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