Franz Boas And Boasian Anthropology: The Father Of American Anthropology

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According to the American Anthropological Association, anthropology is “the study of what makes us human” (2016). Unsurprisingly, there are many ways in which anthropologists have attempted to do so and have broken anthropology into four subfields; Archeology, Biological Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, and Linguistic Anthropology. The father of American anthropology, Franz Boas, introduced this four-field tradition through the amassing of holistic data collection through fieldwork expeditions. Although, each field has deepened our understanding of what makes us human, Boas and his students such as Edward Sapir, Alfred Kroeber, and Ruth Benedict work as sociocultural anthropologists have significantly shaped our ability to understand how …show more content…
Boas believe that it was necessary for anthropology to moving away from studying “Big C culture”, in which he stated “it does not seem to me that the one-sided exploitation of this method will advance our understanding of the development of human society” (109). Rather, Boas aimed to include the mental and physical reactions and activities that characterize the individual social group in order to understand cultures from a cultural relativistic perspective. Boas radically changed the field of anthropology through his inclusion of holistic methods, focusing on the differences between societies, the minimization of the biological differences between races, and believing that biology could be changed by the environment. Furthermore, Boas went on to train many other famous anthropologists of the twentieth century such as Edward …show more content…
Compared to Boas’s predecessors, Boas broke the mold of tradition and sought to argue against contemporary theories of racial distinction between humans as well as discrediting notions of Western civilization as being superior to simpler societies. This outlook is now commonplace in anthropology thanks to Boas and all of the students that he trained such as Sapir, Kroeber and Benedict. Furthermore, I admire Boas’s desire to collect, record and preserve ‘dying out’ cultures in order for future generations to understand the cultural diversity of our world. Anthropology would not be the same field today if Boas had decided to remain in a natural science

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