Franz Boas

Mariam Salah
Note by , created over 6 years ago

Intro to Social Anthropology Note on Franz Boas, created by Mariam Salah on 04/22/2013.

Mariam Salah
Created by Mariam Salah over 6 years ago
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Franz BoasKey Ideas: Anti-evolutionism- rejected the idea that social evolutionary is teleological, didn't pass through same stages Diffusionism- As the process by which discrete culture traits are transferred from one society to another, through migration, trade, war, or other contact. Boas argues that cultural traits should be looked at from within a wider historical process   each culture results of long history. Diffusionism was one of the key processes to explain this  Cultural Relativism- Term first used by Locke but coined by Boas. "Civilisation is not something absolute but relative"- Cultural relativism is the principle that an individual human's beliefs and activities should be understood in terms of his or her own social/ cultural context. Acted as a methodological tool- studied individuals within their local context also pioneered participant observation Ethnocentrism- Cultural relativism is the counter of ethnocentrism   Race vs Culture-  questioned idea of race,  Negro and White fundamentally equal terms Anthropology as a tool- activist stance, change/progress     

                                                                                                    The Shaping of American Anthropology 1883-1911- A Franz Boas Reader, Stocking                                                                                           The Basic Assumptions of Boasian AnthropologyThree crucial themes in Boas's work on the idea of culture Culture is explicit alternative to race in both the classification and and explanation of human differences. Cultures have to be seen as products of highly contingent histories, as fusions of elements which originate in different times and places. Historicism explicit alternative to evolutionism. Despite the emphasis on contingency in the choice of components within a culture, these components are brought together in a specific war according to the "genius of the people." Meaning, cultures need to be seen as wholes, each with it's distinctive genius, as well as assemblages of apparently random elements, each with it's different history. Culture therefore pluralistic and relativistic Alternative to scientific racism and ethnocentric evolutionism  Unresolved tension between culture as an assembly of historical fragments and culture as an integrated whole Tension between physical and historical methodsScientific laws existed in nature, external to the mind of the observer- starting with a hypothese was inferior to an inductive method. Thus, history entered as the necessary basis for derivation of laws and the history of the development of the physiological and psychological development of mankind. 2 purposes of tracing the full history: Stripped away influence of surroundings Once this phenomena with a psychic cause could be isolated, the historical process/ growth could be compared and then lead to the discovery of "general laws" of human development. Only through history could cultural laws be established.  To Boas anthropology was distinguished by/ opinion on the discipline- Physical anthropological research integral part of his professional activity, along with evidence of culture and of language, provided an important approach to "the problem of the early history of mankind."Attitude towards to classification: Distinction between Race and Language and Culture as a reflection of 3 distinct classificatory points of view and 3 different sets of historical processesWork was critical and attacked pre-assumptions such as: "Rigid abstraction" of the 3 European races, evolutionary states of savagery, barbarism and civilisation In fact each of the 3 areas were affected in a complex way by interacting historical processes. > Impact of critiscm was relativist- race, language and culture could not be studied or ranked from a Eurocentric point of view- METHODOLOGICAL IMPACTEmphasis on HISTORICAL processes : Classification end goal not starting point of investigation, depended on prior study of historical processes that would condition effects of present, the interacting processes came about in complexity.Propagated "anthropological point of view" and anthropology as a scienceBenedict and Mead= Evolved Boasians not strict ones

Race, Language and Culture

Aim of anthropological

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