In 1897 he writes in a letter to his parents: “I have employed my oft-used trick: inviting all the Indians to a feast” (ibid. By January 1, 1896, Boas had become Assistant Curator of Ethnology and Somatology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, which under the directorship of Morris K. Jesup set out “to be a major player in American anthropology” (Cole 1999: 185). : 89). In the summer of 1883, Franz Boas, widely regarded as one of the fathers of Inuit anthropology, sailed from Germany to Baffin Island to spend a year among the Inuit of Cumberland Sound. how to make somatological measurements. Ce séjour marqua pour lui le débet d'un changement d'orientation dans sa carrière, des sciences physiques vers l'anthropologie. Contrary to dominant views during that era, Boas came to believeâin part through his fieldworkâthat all societies were fundamentally equal. Franz Boas, the “founding father” of North American anthropology, has long been credited with many pioneer contributions to the field of Arctic anthropology, as a result of his first and only fieldwork among the Inuit on Baffin Island, following the First International Polar Year 1882–1883. (2020, December 13). Along similar lines, Boas denounced the belief that different racial or ethnic groups were more advanced than others. Franz Boas is widely hailed as the “father of American anthropology.” An immigrant from Germany who first came to these shores in the 1880s, rejected the prevailing belief among Western Europeans and Europeans. He was able to look at them and after spending a day “frantically” making anthropometrical measurements of about 75 skulls, found them to be “very instructive” (ibid. : 131). Boas’ participation in the life of the Inuit will move him to the statement that he himself “is now like an Eskimo,” for, as he says, “[…] I live like them, hunt with them and count myself among the men of Anarnitung” (Boas in Müller-Wille 1994b: 186). Boas thereby distanced himself from Eurocentric colonial claims to sovereignty, which often found their expression in the re-naming of discovered and conquered territories. "Franz Boas, Father of American Anthropology." Rather, Boas subscribed to an ethical utilitarianism and sustained a strong separation of science and ethics. Phrenology originated with the German physician Franz Joseph Gall (1825) who thought that the mind consisted of 37 different faculties which could be measured in their corresponding locations on the cranium. I believe that if this trip has a significant impact on me as a thinking person, then it is the strengthening of my notion of the relativity of all education and the conviction that the value of people lies in the guidance close to their heart [Herzensbildung], which I find, or miss here, just as at home […]. Famous anthropologists Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict were both his students, as was the writer Zora Neale Hurston. In 1909 Boas confirmed to a journalist the course of this fictitious funeral but saw in this production “nothing particularly deserving severe criticism.” He defended the right of the museum to the skeleton of Qisuk among others with the following remark: “Minik was just a little boy, and he did not ask for the body. Once upon a time they were very hungry and the boy cried. collecting it, not the having of it” (Rohner 1969: 88). Boas was born in 1858 in Minden, in the German province of Westphalia. In 1890 he expressed his worry that he might have to sell his collection of skulls due to a financial crisis, although it would be “wiser” to keep it, since “it will gain in value.” At the same time he hoped to complete the collection because “some doctors” promised him a few skulls which led him to estimate the value of his collection at $1,800 (ibid. Read reviews from world’s largest community for readers. Franz Boas, (born July 9, 1858, Minden, Westphalia, Prussia [Germany]—died December 22, 1942, New York, New York, U.S.), German-born American anthropologist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the founder of the relativistic, culture-centred school of American anthropology that became dominant in the 20th century. The boy never suspected […]" (ibid. The collected “objects” the Sutton brothers sent were “invoiced with a falsified origin and labelled as natural history specimens” to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where Boas stored them. In 1883, after a year of service in the military, Boas began field research in Inuit communities in Baffin Island, off the northern coast of Canada. Already on November 9, 1886, Boas stole “two well preserved skulls” from an "old burial ground" in Cowichan (Rohner 1969: 57), and on November 15 he notes, “today I found something worthwhile [sic]: a very old well-preserved skull […]. Franz Boas, considered the “father of American anthropology” and the architect of its contemporary structure, helped revolutionize the consciousness and conscience of humanity by fighting against 19th-century colonial Anglo-American ethnocentrism and racism and championing 20th-century cultural relativism, tolerance, and multicultural awareness. : 122). Franz Boas, 1858-1942. It was to reduce existing prejudices and assure that “the number of thinkers who try to free themselves from the fetters of tradition increases” (Boas in Cole 1999: 277). COLE, Douglas, 1983 The Value of a Person Lies in His, CURTIS GRAYBILL, Florence and Victor BOESEN, 1979. Franz Boas. This was the spirit in which the physician Samuel Morton (1799-1851), who had attended lectures on phrenology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, set out to hunt for “Indian” skulls along the Ohio and Mississippi. Frederic W. Putnam, the director of the Peabody Museum in Harvard, was in charge of the so-called Anthropological Building. Eskimos At The World's Columbian Exposition, which Franz Boas helped create. Participant observation provided the first case in point not only for his later critique of the so-called comparative method in ethnology and anthropology, but also for his theory of cultural relativism, later expressed and justified in scientific terms: On December 23, 1883, he notes in his diary: I often ask myself what advantages our “good” society possesses over the “savages” and the more I see of their customs, I find that we really have no grounds to look down on them contemptuously […]. Boas remained at Columbia University for the rest of his career. He is not like the other whites who have come to us. He disputed the claim that fundamental differences existed between societies that were deemed civilized versus "savage" or "primitive," according to the language of the time. Hunt was ordered to collect myths as well as skeletons and skulls, but—this was Boas’ primary concern in 1897—under no circumstances was he to work for the anthropologist George Dorsey of the Field Museum of Chicago, the primary competitor to the New York museum. Vernon. In the Anthropological Building, visitors could have themselves measured and investigated by physical anthropologists under Boas’ supervision (Rydell 1984: 57). BibTeX, JabRef, Mendeley, Zotero, Assessing Franz Boas’ ethics in his Arctic and later anthropological fieldwork, Évaluer la dimension éthique des recherches de Franz Boas dans l’Arctique et dans ses terrains anthropologiques subséquents, Assessing Franz Boas’ ethics in his Arctic and later anthropological …, Boas’ fieldwork among the Inuit: Theory and practice, Boas and the scientific spirit of the time, Boas and the desecration of graves on the Northwest Coast, Discussion: Franz Boas, science and ethics. Yet Boas’ desire for skulls and skeletons persisted. Robert Peary, seafarer, polar explorer, business man, hunter of meteorites and skeletons, who later reached the North Pole with “his Eskimos,” as he loved to put it, sent by the end of September of the same year six Inuit from Northern Greenland to the American Museum of Natural History. This was his introduction to the Arctic and to anthropological fieldwork. Dusk was the time chosen for the mock burial […]. Boas read and studied Kant on Baffin Island: “I have my Kant with me and am studying him so that I shall not be too uneducated when I come home […] You have no concept of the effect of deprivation and hunger on a person. Under Boas’ supervision, the then young anthropologist Alfred Kroeber was given the unique opportunity to carry out field research, not in the foreign lands of the “savages,” but on his own familiar terrain. : 88-89). Alfred Hrdlicka, the physical anthropologist of the Smithsonian Institution, also was allowed to study a “Polar Eskimo.” In 1901 he published an article with the title An Eskimo Brain and the introductory words, “The brain in question is that of Qisuk […]” (ibid. “New” will be language, mythology and manner of living; “worthwhile,” the sacred and profane objects, which Boas himself or others in his name bought and later sold: masks, rattles, blankets, totem poles, and, finally, skeletal remains. To be sure, Boas was no longer an employee of the museum at that time. Lewis, Elizabeth. The goal of this ambitious enterprise was “an investigation of the historical relations of the tribes to their neighbors” as well as “a presentation of the culture as it appears to the Indian himself” (Boas in Rohner 1969: 199). I had seen that they enjoyed life, and a hard life, as we do; that nature is also beautiful to them; that feelings of friendship also root in the Eskimo heart; that, although, the character of their life is so rude as compared to civilized life, the Eskimo is a man as we are; that his feelings, his virtues, and his shortcomings are based in human nature, like ours. Viewed from an ethical philosophical perspective, Boas instead subscribed to utilitarianism: good is what is useful—useful for science, and sometimes also just useful for Boas himself. Boas told Newcombe that, “the more you let me have, the better,” because skulls and skeletons were “always welcome” in New York, but added, “do not do as Dorsey did” (ibid. The undertaking was unique in several respects: first, because it was an expedition carried out by only one, or rather two, men; second, because it was self-financed, which is why Boas did not have to submit to alien interests and goals, political or otherwise; and lastly unique because in this Arctic region, “power relations were not yet structured by colonization and the work of missionaries” (Knötsch 1992: 68). This is also why, but in inverse direction, Native people of the Great Antilles could conceive of the plan “to bury the bodies of drowned white prisoners to observe whether they were subject to decay” (Lévi-Strauss 1992: 370). Anthropology, for him, constituted the holistic study of culture and experience, bringing together cultural anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology, and physical anthropology. Dans l’Arctique, Boas s’est retenu de voler des tombes mais il a exploité «son appartenance à la race blanche» pour exercer des pressions sur «ses Esquimaux» afin de poursuivre ses buts scientifiques. Scientific racism held that race was a biological, rather than cultural, concept and that racial differences could thus be attributed to underlying biology. : 89). Thus he managed to persuade a photographer to visit an Indian village on the Skeena River and to photograph the inhabitants while he went hunting for skulls. Études/Inuit/Studies, Volume 32, Issue 2, 2008, p. 35–52Franz Boas et les Inuit, Tous droits réservés © La revue Études/Inuit/Studies, 2008. Franz Boas died of a stroke in 1942 at the Columbia University campus. Franz Boas among the Inuit of Baffin Island, 1883-1884: Journals and Letters - Ebook written by Ludger Muller-Wille. Roosevelt promptly created a commission, which found unanimously that Curtis had the necessary qualifications (Curtis Graybill and Bosen 1979: 37). Dans ses recherches sur le terrain, Boas n’a pas respecté l’être humain en tant que fin en soi. MATYSSEK, Angela, 2001 Die Wissenschaft als Religion, das Präparat als Reliquie, in Anke te Heesen and E.C. Boas was an early proponent of using dioramas, or replicas of scenes from daily life, in museum settings. The things worked well. In February 1898, Qisuk, father of Minik, died in Bellevue Hospital in New York. This was his introduction to the Arctic and to anthropological fieldwork. Like Kant and generally like all thinkers of Enlightenment, Boas, too, believed in the accomplishments of enlightened rationality and the progress associated with it. On September 30, 1883, on the island Arilik Boas and his company found, probably not wholly by accident, skulls in a chest under a big stone as well as a grave site: “The corpse in the chest, but no skull attached, wrapped in blue cloth […]. Boas continued to work at the Museum until 1905, when he turned his professional energies toward academia. Some visitors were allowed to catch glimpses of the foreigners from up North. He is best known for his curatorial work at the American Museum of National History in New York and for his nearly four-decade career teaching anthropology at Columbia University, where he built the first anthropology program in the country and trained the first generation of anthropologists in the U.S.Â His graduate students went on to establish many of the first and most highly regarded anthropology programs in the country. Although Horatio Hale, who directed Boas’ research in 1888, asked him to work up a “general synopsis of the ethnology of the whole of British Columbia according to the linguistic stock” as well as to carry out “anthropometric measurements of the different tribes” (Hale in Rohner 1969: 81), Boas accumulated primarily for financial gain a substantial collection of skulls. Il est vrai que Boas a été influencé dans plusieurs domaines par Kant, mais la position éthique de Kant restait en suspens quand Boas travaillait sur le terrain. Aftermath of colonialism: that is how our investigations are sometimes called. Lévi-Strauss, who is in some respect a follower of Boas, remarks in this context that the “critique of racism […] has its origin with Boas” (Lévi-Strauss 1996: 62). ThoughtCo, Dec. 13, 2020, thoughtco.com/franz-boas-4582034. But in general, they were not displayed publicly, since they meant to serve primarily as study objects for the museum’s scientific staff. I took a skull and the entire lower portion of the man” (ibid. […] the small part of humanity that produced anthropology [is] the same that reduced so many other humans to becoming objects of contempt and disgust. He encouraged travellers to collect skeletons or at least parts of skeletons of foreign “races”; ideally they were to bring back skulls, since the shape of the skull would demonstrate the degree of intelligence; he also gave precise instructions on how to dissolve flesh from the bone and more (Stocking 1968: 30). An old woman lived with her grandson in a small hut. At his arrival the Inuit accorded him special status, that of a great physician, a Doktoraaluk. As noted by Cole (1999: 168), in Human Faculty as Determinedby Race (1894) Boas writes that there is no specific difference between supposedly superior and inferior races. The proponents of polygenitism argued not only in scientific but also religious terms for the inferiority of the “coloured races.” They called the latter “Pre-Adamites,” because they were to have been created together with the animals on the fifth day, which was why their progeny, just like animals, was unable to distinguish between good and evil (Bitterli 1991: 329). : 144). The orphaned Minik, however, did not know anything about all this, since the team of scientists of the museum had staged a bizarre mock funeral. He opposed scientific racism, a dominant school of thought at that time. He was a leading figure in the research, development, and launch of the Museum's Northwest Coast Hall in 1890, which was one of the first museum exhibits on the life and culture of the Indigenous people of North America. About the Sutton brothers, who also practiced phrenology besides their business of collecting and selling skulls, he wrote: “Of course I refrained from saying anything about the nonsense of phrenology” (ibid. Boas became the first professor of anthropology at Columbia University in 1899, following three years as a lecturer in the field. Freedom in science, however, brings its own dangers, which is why Boas could violate ethical boundaries in the name of science. : 13 "The best known of these is perhaps the story of Kiviuk, who went out in his kayak, and, after passing many dangerous obstructions, reached a coast, where he fell in with an old witch, who killed her visitors with her sharp tail, by sitting on them. Totemism is a system of belief in which humans are said to have kinship or a mystical relationship with a spirit-being, such as an animal or plant. In the following years on the Northwest Coast, Boas used the same trick again and again. Roosevelt admired and supported Curtis, whose mission in life was to visit and take pictures of every North American Native Indian culture still in existence. They finally agreed that the hospital should do the autopsy and then deliver the skeleton to the museum. It appears that Boas’ conviction and fight for freedom of science implies a “dangerous” separation of science and ethics. But these plans did not materialise and Boas ended up giving a lecture in St. Louis, which was later published under the title The History of Anthropology. : 90). What I have seen and experienced here has not changed me, perhaps made me a little more sensitive to all the beauty and goodness that is to be found at home, and I also take a greater pleasure in associating with others than formerly” (Boas in Cole 1983: 45). Sur la côte Nord-ouest, il a changé d’attitude. Under the guidance of Rudolf Virchow he acquired techniques in physical anthropology, i.e. All the Inuit caught pneumonia shortly after their arrival in New York; four died within the year, one was lucky enough to be allowed to return to Greenland and the youngest among them, the 7 year old Minik, stayed pending further decisions in New York. A. few Inuit only took pity on them and brought them seal’s meat and blubber for their lamp”. With respect to the events around Minik, Harper (2000: 94) has rightly asked: “Was this fieldwork when the field was brought to the scientists?” The way in which Boas changed the manner of research, and the ethnological displays staged at the beginning of the 20th century in Europe and America, suggest a “Copernican turn.” Copernicus executed his turn “after the explanation of the heavenly motions did not make good progress while he assumed that the whole army of stars turned around the observer” (Kant 1977a: 25) by shifting to the assumption that the observer, not the stars, were turning. Boas displayed the same patronising and contemptuous attitude with regard to his closest collaborator in the Canadian Northwest Coast, George Hunt (Cole 1985: 156). It remains questionable how these lofty goals could be reconciled with the uninhibited accumulation of artefacts, skulls and skeletons and the methods Boas used. Franz Boas was born in Minden, in the Westphalia area of Germany, in 1858. HABERLAND, Wolfgang, 1999 Nine Bella Coolas in Germany, in Christian F. Feest (ed.). Restricted access to the most recent articles in subscription journals was reinstated on January 12, 2021. This was his introduction to the Arctic and to anthropological fieldwork. KNÖTSCH, Carol Cathleen, 1992 Franz Boas als teilnehmender Beobachter in der Arktis, in Michael Dürr, Erich Kasten and Egon Renner (eds). Franz Boas was curator of the American Museum Of Natural History from 1896 to 1905. In the summer of 1883 Franz Boas travelled from Germany to Cumberland Sound, Baffin Island, aboard the sailing vessel Germania whose main objective was to evacuate the personnel of the German station of the First International Polar Year from Kingua Fiord. The fact is that when Minik found out about the fraud in 1906, and decided to return with his father’s bones to Greenland, all his attempts to regain them from the museum failed. They simply needed to be understood within their own cultural contexts. The demand of museums and anatomical and anthropological institutes in the 19th and 20th century for dead “human material” was immense. Franz Boas. At the beginning of the Jesup Expedition, Boas gave George Hunt money to hold a feast for the Kwakiutl of Fort Rupert. Boas was also a key figure in the founding and development of the American Anthropological Association, which remains the primary professional organization for anthropologists in the U.S. Boas is well known for his theory of cultural relativism, which held that all cultures were essentially equal but simply had to be understood in their own terms. Very much in the spirit of Enlightenment was Boas’ optimistic belief in humanitarian progress which could only be assured under the condition of increasing rationality, which in turn requires freedom. In terms of anthropology as a discipline, Boas supported what came to be known as the four-field approach. Boas relates the introduction on October 9, 1886, in a letter-diary to his parents: “‘This chief’, he said, pointing at me, ‘has come to us from a distant land, and all our hearts are glad. Apparently very old” (Boas in Müller-Wille 1994b: 107). From then on Boas was tireless in his criticism of the scientific idea of “pure race” and distanced himself clearly from the supposedly scientific insights of phrenology. The latter plan, though, had been conceived in reaction to the “scientific” investigative commission of the Spaniards, who were supposed to explore whether Native people possessed souls. Therefore a number of references are quoted according to German translations of known literature. 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