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Biography & Autobiography Historical

The Franz Boas Papers, Volume 1

Franz Boas as Public Intellectual—Theory, Ethnography, Activism

edited by Regna Darnell, Joshua Smith, Michelle Hamilton & Robert L.A. Hancock

Initial publish date
Aug 2015
Historical, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2015
    List Price

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This inaugural volume of The Franz Boas Papers Documentary Edition series presents current scholarship from the various academic disciplines that were shaped and continue to be influenced by Franz Boas (1858–1942). Few of Boas’s intellectual progeny span the range of his disciplinary and public engagements. In his later career, Boas moved beyond Native American studies to become a public intellectual and advocate for social justice, particularly with reference to racism against African Americans and Jews and discrimination against women in science. He was a passionate defender of academic freedom, rigorous scholarship, and anthropology as a humane calling.
The Franz Boas Papers, Volume 1 examines Boas’s stature as a public intellectual in three crucial dimensions: theory, ethnography, and activism. The volume’s contributors move across many of the disciplines within which Boas himself worked, bringing to bear their expertise in Native studies, anthropology, history, linguistics, folklore, ethnomusicology, museum studies, comparative literature, English, film studies, philosophy, and journalism. This volume demonstrates a contemporary urgency to reassessing Boas both within the field of anthropology and beyond.

About the authors

Regna Darnell is Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology Emerita at the University of Western Ontario. She is coeditor of The Franz Boas Papers, Volume 1: Franz Boas as Public Intellectual—Theory, Ethnography, Activism (Nebraska, 2015). Darnell is the general editor of the multivolume series The Franz Boas Papers: Documentary Edition and co-editor of the Critical Studies in History of Anthropology series. 

Regna Darnell's profile page

Joshua Smith's profile page

Michelle A. Hamilton is assistant professor and director of public history at the University of Western Ontario.

Michelle Hamilton's profile page

Robert L.A. Hancock's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"This is an important volume. . . . The many excellent papers gathered here accurately represent the current state of scholarship on Boas and the history of North American anthropology."—Richard Handler, Journal of Anthropological Research

"As a stand-alone piece and as a first step in the grand Boas project, this volume is an important and fascinating contribution toward the understanding of a man who, if he did not heroically invent anthropology single-handedly, certainly did have a disproportionate influence on its formation and early direction."—Jack David Eller, Anthropology Review Database

"Highly recommended."—CHOICE

“This pathbreaking book transforms our understanding of Franz Boas as both scientist and citizen, going far beyond commonly accepted views of this influential figure of American cultural life. Presented from a firmly contemporary perspective, these important and well-researched essays will surely be the foundation of much future study.”—Ira Jacknis, research anthropologist at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley

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