Biography Of Pitt Rivers And Early 20th Century Essay

1498 Words Nov 17th, 2016 6 Pages
It was under the influence of two men that the fields of anthropology and ethnology began to change and transform into what they are today. Late 19th century ethnologist Augustus Pitt Rivers and early 20th century anthropologist Franz Boas each had very different approaches to material culture; they had different ways of understanding objects, and this guided the ways they organized and displayed them in museums. Pitt Rivers believed material culture could be used to illustrate the evolution of humans and technology, arranging museum displays to show progression of complexity. Boas believed material culture served to inform observers of the cultures from which they came, arranging his displays by 'tribal groupings. ' Nevertheless, both approaches were innovative for their time and established influential norms for museum anthropology based on Pitt Rivers’ and Boas’ different approaches to material culture. Pitt Rivers and Boas had their own ideologies concerning material culture; each believed that material culture could be used to study an aspect of history. Pitt Rivers saw objects as telling a story of all human history, while Boas saw objects as telling of their respective cultures. According to his writings, like his 1874 lecture, Pitt Rivers viewed objects of material culture in a Darwinistic way. He saw them as representations of human ideas that could be used to trace the progression of human intellect and technology. He believed that this progression was…

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