Boos: Franz Boas, An Anthropological Pioneer

2058 Words 9 Pages
Franz Boas: An Anthropological Pioneer
Often referred to as the “father of modern anthropology”, Franz Boas is best known for establishing the area of cultural anthropology. Having possessed a scientific background with a doctorate in physics, he was one of the first scientists of his day to question the beliefs behind social Darwinism and scientific racism, and try to come to an understanding regarding the differences among people and their cultures. Boas dedicated his life to the study of anthropology, and he used his knowledge and drive to establish anthropology at academic institutions such as Columbia University. Here, Boas helped shape the minds of many of his students who would soon become very influential anthropologists. Born into
…show more content…
The goals of the revolution, which were strong liberal ideals, were very prominent in Boas. However, due to an unsuccessful revolutionary movement, many German nationals, including some of Boas’s family, immigrated to America in search of the ideals that were a living force within his world. The ideals of freedom of speech, religion, and press were prominent with the Boas family. Boas’s family were very influential on his way of thinking starting at a young age. In Herbert Lewis’s article titled, “Franz Boas: Boon or Bane?” Lewis quotes a young Boas telling his mother, “And what I want, what I will live and die for, is equal rights for all, equal opportunities to [work] and strive for poor and rich!” (186). Even from a young age, Boas expressed his ambitions to do something positive for humanity. Known primarily for is ideas of cultural relativism and equality is what drove Boas to become known across the world. Being brought up in a time of cultural suppression that opposed freethinking individuals greatly contributed to Boas’s thinking towards racism and ethnocentrism. Strongly believing in the ideas of human rights and equal rights, Boas often undertook many projects to confront these issues. His ideals that surrounded him in his childhood home carried his drive for equality even into his last years. A few years before his death, Boas decided to undertake the fight against Nazism. He fought on behalf of the liberal ideals that he was taught at a young age, freethinking and freedom for cultural practices. Boas joined every organization in the United States in which their goals were to fight Nazism in Germany. Boas even later persuaded the American Anthropological Association to pass a resolution that denied racial significance to terms like “Aryan” and “Semite” (Whitfield 437). This is just

Related Documents