Franz Boas: Boon or Bane?

  title={Franz Boas: Boon or Bane?},
  author={Herbert S. Lewis},
  journal={Reviews in Anthropology},
  pages={169 - 200}
Franz Boas organized and shaped American anthropology. No academic discipline of similar scope owed so much to just one person. Within three decades of coming to the United States from Germany he had trained the anthropologists who established its place within the universities and redirected its tone and ethos as well as its theories. The biographies under review help us understand the background, aims, and drive of the man. We shall consider, in particular, the impact he had on the political… 

Boas and Boasians, once again

  • S. Kan
  • Linguistics
    Reviews in Anthropology
  • 2022
Abstract The present review discusses two recent works dealing with Franz Boas: a biography by Rosemary Lévy Zumwalt and a book on Boas and several members of his school by Charles King. The

Back to Boas

I fear a major and growing loss of knowledge, both of the ethnographic record and of the gains to our understanding of human behavior derived from earlier anthropology. But the problems have not been

Franz Boas and Friends? Not Really

Abstract Blackhawk, Ned, and Isaiah L. Wilner. 2018. Indigenous Visions: Rediscovering the World of Franz Boas. New Haven: Yale University Press. The editors of this volume proclaim their intention

Editor’s introduction

The history of anthropology in North America is very closely intertwined with Native cultures in the United States and Canada. As Polly Strong observes, the first generation of American

Neo-Boasianism, a form of critical structural realism: It’s better than the alternative

A good paper should have fortifying doses of reason and revelation. The revelation in this paper is the identity of ‘the alternative’ mentioned in the title. The article reasons that neo-Boasianism

Mathematics and Magic Realism: A Study of "The Raven Legend"

This article demonstrates that “The Raven Legend”, a Haida myth transcribed by Franz Boas in 1888, is full of (ethno)mathematical concepts that Haida society used to make sense of the natural, real

“Here is our man”: Dundes Discovered, The Development of the Folklore Program at the University of California, Berkeley

Abstract:This paper focuses on the recruitment of Alan Dundes to the University of California, Berkeley, and his work with William Bascom in founding the Folklore Program. Using primarily the William

Jewish Women's Transracial Epistemological Networks: Representations of Black Women in the African Diaspora, 1930–1980

Part of the African History Commons, African Languages and Societies Commons, African Studies Commons, Gender and Sexuality Commons, History of Gender Commons, History of Religion Commons, History of



Boas, Foucault, and the “Native Anthropologist”: Notes toward a Neo-Boasian Anthropology

This article proposes the possibility of a neo-Boasian anthropology conceived at the intersection of Foucauldian genealogy, Boasian historicism, and the epistemic rethinking of the discipline's

Volksgeist as Method and Ethic: Essays on Boasian Ethnography and the German Anthropological Tradition

Franz Boas, the founding figure of anthropology in America, came to the United States from Germany in 1886. This volume in the History of Anthropology series explores the extent and significance of

Boas and Holism

Some anthropologists advocate going back to Boas’s anthropology to retrieve his sense of the individual and agency, among other things. Such a “psycho-logical Boas” could only exist in his holistic

The Passion of Franz Boas

The reputation of Franz Boas as a scientist declined in the decades after his death in 1942, but his reputation as a champion of human rights and an opponent of racism remained intact. More recently,

And Along Came Boas: Continuity and revolution in Americanist anthropology

The advent of Franz Boas on the North American scene irrevocably redirected the course of Americanist anthropology. This volume documents the revolutionary character of the theoretical and

Franz Boas: cultural history for the present, or obsolete natural history?

Recently, some neo-Boasian anthropologists have portrayed Boas as an anthropologist with a deep sense of history, of the individual, and of agency. Focusing on Boas's ethnographic practice rather

Types Distinct from Our Own: Franz Boas on Jewish Identity and Assimiliation

Boas's published writings on assimilation were deeply influenced by his German Jewish background. In particular, his unwillingness to recognize Jewish cultural identity as a reality was central to

The Promise of Particularism and the Theology of Culture: Limits and Lessons of “Neo‐Boasianism”

This article compares the status of “culture” as a politically engaged concept in Franz Boas's time and in our own time. Taking a Boasian approach to “neo-Boasianism,” I examine the limits of this

Invisible Genealogies: A History of Americanist Anthropology

Regna Darnell, Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2001, xxvii + 373 pages.Reviewer: Naomi McPherson Okanagan University CollegeThere is a "rhetoric of discontinuity" among contemporary

The Influence of Edward Said and Orientalism on Anthropology, or: Can the Anthropologist Speak?

  • H. Lewis
  • Art
    Postcolonial Theory and the Arab-Israel Conflict
  • 2007
In Orientalism, Edward Said ignores anthropology almost entirely, except to allow that Clifford Geertz was not so bad. It did not take long, however, for other writers practising literary theory and