His academic legacy, as well as his personal and civic commitments, could be called Jeffersonian, in the sense that they were directed toward realizing the moral promise of the Declaration of Independence.Boas is among the supreme public intellectuals in the span of the republic because the authority of his expertise was entwined with the purposes to which he applied his citizenship. His contributions to his discipline were as formidable as anyone has ever made, but he also drew upon his scholarly credentials to fight for good causes. Du Bois was, and salient though his legacy has been, he is not conspicuously associated with the defense of other racial minorities and ancestral groups.
Indeed he has been called “the founder of American antiracism.” This essay is intended to demonstrate how fully Franz Boas exemplified the ideal of the scholar as activist and as the exemplar of a social conscience.Perhaps no one in modern American history came closer to satisfying that standard.The deviations in the cephalic index that Boas and his team of thirteen research assistants discovered constituted a riposte to the nativists who feared that newcomers were inassimilable.(For something comparable — and astonishing — in another field of endeavor, consider 1993, when director Steven Spielberg released two significant but radically different films: .) Another measure of greatness in a public intellectual is foresight. For all of his immunity to the dominant racism in the social sciences and the social order, Boas was no outcast. In promoting humane inclusiveness, in recording the contingency of identity, Boas was ahead of his time — which makes him so appealing a figure in ours. After studying in Heidelberg, Bonn, and Berlin as well as in Kiel, Boas came to the United States at the age of 29.His oeuvre in his specialization — the Kwakiutl and other tribes of the Pacific Northwest — totaled more than 10,000 printed pages. Boas’s best-known work is nevertheless (1911), which the radical critic Randolph Bourne hailed for having brought closer the realization of “the Brotherhood of man.” Social science might therefore accomplish what “religion has failed to achieve,” the reviewer added.
No text of its era lent such scholarly authority to the struggle against racism and jingoism.
xxx Born in 1858, Boas had the luck not to die young, or even in middle age — but instead to go the distance. Longevity and undiminished intellectual force allowed for prodigious output in writing for the scholarly community as well as for a general audience. ” Boas’s answer to that question marked him as no slouch.
His bibliography lists 625 titles, and runs forty pages.
At Clark University, a new research-oriented institution that in 1888 gave Boas his first teaching post, his subject was psychology. Michelson, who would become the first American to win a Nobel Prize.) In 1909, when Clark University celebrated the twentieth anniversary of its founding, he received an honorary L. In 1953, when Alain Resnais and Chris Marker did a documentary for (why are the arts of the Africans in an ethnological museum, whereas the arts of the Egyptians and the Greeks are in the Louvre? This query has a precedent in what Boas wrote in 1909, in praising the “artistic merit” of African civilization, and in lamenting that “unfortunately our American museums have never paid any adequate attention” to it. As early as 1906, he was calling for an “African Museum” that would display “the best products of African civilization.” Such an institution would deflect assumptions of black inferiority, and would inform Americans that “the African race in its own continent has achieved advancements which have been of importance in the development of civilization.” Nor did white skin prevent Boas from exerting an impact on the aesthetic claims of the Negro Renaissance of the 1920s.
So did his counterparts in French anthropology, like Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, Marcel Mauss and Paul Rivet.
It included every major area in physical and cultural anthropology.” Boas’s virtuosity was most evident in the year that his most famous book was published.