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The measure of America: how a rebel anthropologist waged war on racism, Claudia Roth Pierpont

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  1. The origins of anthropology in the United States, and Boas' disagreement regarding evolutionary theories
    1. Anthropology at the end of the nineteenth century
    2. Boas's revolutionary point of view
  2. Practices, studies, and arguments
    1. Necessity but difficulties of offering an alternative to the evolutionary theory
    2. Practices, research and thesis

Based on Boas's life and achievements, Claudia Roth Pierpont's article ?How a rebel anthropologist waged war on racism' deals with the origins of anthropology in the United States, laying emphasis on the importance of Boas, the "rebel anthropologist?, in the transformation of the common knowledge in those days. As a matter of fact, the young German émigré had decided to settle in the United States and to pursue an academic career. As he wrote, "What I want to live and die for () is equal rights for all, equal possibilities to learn and work for poor and rich alike!" Hence the question that arises is, to what extent did Franz Boas deeply changed the conception of anthropology?

[...] As stressed by Claudia Roth Pierpont, only few (barely more than half a dozen institutions employed anthropoligists on a regular basis. In spite of the difficulties, Boas was determined to fight against the racist theories, conveyed under the guise of anthropology The need for an alternative theory to replace evolutionism led Boas to perform several researchs, and would eventually lead him to his famous conclusions, which would definitely challenge evolutionary theories. II- Practices, studies, and arguments Necessity but difficulties of offering an alternative to the evolutionary theory Boas knew that change would be long to reach. [...]


[...] According to the article, he actually thought (and demonstrated) that the primitive ears of anthropologist were responsible for this erroneous view, as they transcribed in different ways what they heard at different times Boas' anthropology was mostly based on social and political arguments rather than on purely scientific ones. As previously mentioned, the positions on public policy issues he opposed were informed (and rationalized by what its militants called science. To change mentalities, Boas had to demonstrate the invalidity of the evolutionary theory, as well as replacing it with an alternative that would support a more liberal political agenda states Sidney M. [...]

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