Anthropologist Franz Boas

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The area of anthropology focuses on studying the origins of culture and social conduct of individuals in the society. The contribution of various anthropologist over the years indicates the extent to which many researchers contribute to the growth of current knowledge within the identical field. Franz Boas is one of the anthropologists associated with the wide contribution in the learn about of anthropology. Franz Boas was born in Germany before transferring to the United States later in his life. The main contribution of Franz Boas is the development of the idea of cultural relativism. This paper uses various portions of evidence to give in-depth data about the Franz Boas and his significant contributions towards anthropology.
Some students refer to Franz Boas as “the father of modern anthropology” because of his essential contribution in organizing researchers and ideas in the field of anthropology. During the time he was actively involved in research within American, Boas managed to organize American Anthropological Association which is the first umbrella for anthropologist within the United States (Brody, 2015). Apart from the fact that his main contribution was in the field of anthropology, Boas was able to make some critical efforts towards developing new ideas within the field of linguistics, archeology as well as cultural anthropology.

Franz Boas developed an interest to study natural science during his early life such as zoology and geology while he was at the age of five. During the time he was undertaking his studies at Gymnasium in Minden, he developed the interest to pursue research in the history of culture (Maxwell, 2013). Still, he managed to attain a degree in physics with a minor in geography at the University of Kiel in the year 1881. He managed to serve in the military shortly and later continue with his studies in Berlin. In the year 1883, Boas started exploring different scientific studies in the field of anthropology. He managed to collect data on some specific culture within Canada to investigate the relative culture of other people (Darnell et al., 2015). Besides, Boas taught geography at the University of Berlin before moving to America.

Boas managed to achieve some award during his life that shows the level of his contributions in the field of anthropology. In the year 1900, Boas was elected to the National academy of sciences for the United States, and in the year 1931, he was honored to serve as the President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Brody, 2015). Some position is examples of her efforts and contributions in the field of sociology.

One of the arguments of Boas is against the theories that supported the identification of individuals by race. Apart from that, Boas discredited the arguments that western civilization is more superior to the culture in other countries. For this reason, Boas holds the view that all individuals across all societies have the same capacity to develop and thus all “races” can be in the same place of development. Again, during his study on various aspects of culture, Boas argued that the objective way to conduct such research it to do it from within the specific culture. The basis for such arguments is that when researchers conduct studies on various cultures, they should do so from within to achieve the perspective of the people who belong to the culture in question more objectively( Maxwell, 2013).. Such point of view is what Boas calls “Cultural relativism.” One of the best ways to think about the concept of cultural relativism is to look as scenarios when an individual’s visits a friends whey get the opportunity to observe what happens in such environment and therefore they should make judgment without considering what happens back in their house.

As a writer, some of the books published by Boas includes, “The Mind of Primitive Man” and “Anthropology and Modern life” through which he explores ideas on various issues related to anthropology (Darnell et al., 2015). Notably, during the entire life of Boas he made efforts to speak against the problem of racism that dominated the United States as witnessed by many individuals. Besides, Boas established folklore which is a subfield of anthropology.

Boas first contributions to physical anthropology are linked to the work of Charles Darwin. Boas study explored social and general changes that take place in individuals especially children who belong to immigrants groups within the United States. Notably, there are researchers who before that noted differences regarding height and other physical elements. Boas concluded that there was an innate biological difference among individuals from different races (Maxwell, 2013). The studies did not deny the existence of differences in physical appearance of individuals such as height. Instead, he maintained that the environment has a critical impact on the development of such features that occur over time. Given such work, Boas argued that the difference that exists across races is not absolute.

In conclusion, Boas deserves credit for his contributions to the field of anthropology. The concept of cultural relativism and folklore as some of the ideas that continue to influence scholars within and beyond the field of anthropology. People who would like to study anthropology will have to consider exploring more concerning the work of Boas because of the critical foundations in the study of anthropology.


Brody, H. (2015). The Franz Boas Enigma (by Ludger Müller-Wille). Northern Review, (38).

Darnell, R., Smith, J., Hamilton, M., & Hancock, R. L. (Eds.). (2015). The Franz Boas Papers, Volume 1: Franz Boas as Public Intellectual—Theory, Ethnography, Activism (Vol. 1). U of Nebraska Press.

Maxwell, A. (2013). Modern anthropology and the problem of the racial type: the photographs of Franz Boas. Visual Communication, 12(1), 123-142.

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