54: Anthropologist of the Fortnight

18 12 2008

Chrystal Kinsella

Ruth Benedict was one of the first female anthropologists. She also helped shape the discipline of anthropology. She attended Vassar College on a scholarship and graduated in 1909. Ten years later she went to Columbia University, where she studied under Franz Boas. In 1923, after she had her PhD, Benedict became a faculty member. She worked there until 1948. Boas’ influence showed in her work in anthropology. She was very influenced with the idea of egalitarianism. Benedict was very good at organizing facts and summarizing. One of her most famous publications is Patterns of Culture which has been translated into fourteen different languages. This book promotes cultural relativism. She especially argued that morality could only be judged within the circumference of ones own culture.

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