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Book Title: Anthropology and Modern Life|
The author of the book: Franz Boas
ISBN 13: 9780486252452
Format files: PDF
Loaded: 1513 times
Reader ratings: 3.2
The size of the: 975 KB
City - Country: No data
Edition: Dover Publications
Date of issue: February 1st 1987
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Franz Boaz was a German Jewish scholar who came to North America in the 1890s to study Native American tribes and ended up staying in the USA. He became the father of anthropology and taught many of the leading names in the early days of the field such as Ruth Benedict, Ruth Bendt and Margaret Mead. However, Boaz was also a very controversial figure. In the decades leading up to WWII, social scientists were often enamored with what I like to call the evil trinity of modern thought; eugenics, social darwinism and Nietzche's theory of the ubermensch. Social scientists wanted to find the master race and recreate a new and improved humanity long before Hitler took the lead in that department in the 1930s. But Boaz would have none of it. He was not a believer in eugenics, and he did not believe that some human types were inherently superior to others. This bought him ridicule and a reputation as a reactionary in those heady days of the 1920s and 30s. Nevertheless, even though Boaz did not live to see it, he was proven right when mankind saw what an abomination these theories could lead to in Hitler's Germany and its racial policies and death camps. In the end, Boaz and not his crusading students was proven right.
In "Anthropology and Modern Life", Boaz reiterates many of his usual themes. Most specifically he taught that environment influences human types and development far more than genetics does. He discusses research that proves this and shows that members of the same race in different environments are more different than members of different races who happen to be in the same environment. He also discusses the nature of "primitive" versus "Civilized" societies. At a time when most of his contemporaries were still referring to some races as "savages", Boaz warns us that different races develop according to their environments and not according to Western ideas of what constitutes a civilized society. His writing is downright refreshing after reading some of the writings of other early anthropologists, who were far more inclined to judge the peoples that they studied rather than study them objectively.
This book, like others by Boaz, is must reading for any student who is serious about understanding the development of the field of anthropology.
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