47:Anthropologist of the Fortnight – Franz Boas

16 03 2008

by Chrystal Kinsella


Franz Boas is greatly considered to be the father of American Anthropology. He not only studied anthropology, but also geography and physics.  Rather than study cultures using the standard theories and anecdotes, Boas implemented the scientific theory to his studies. He sought to gather all data before making any generalizations. Aside form all his innovative ideas and practices, Boas was unique in the fact that he actively encouraged women to become anthropologists.


Boas made it standard anthropological thought that all human races are equally able to develop culture. He also believed that race and genetics were not responsible for behavioral differences among human populations, but are a result of culture. With these beliefs, Boas developed cultural relativism and cultural determinism.




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