Franz Boas Facts

Franz Boas Facts
Franz Uri Boas (July 9, 1858 to December 21, 1942) was a German-American anthropologist and a pioneer of modern anthropology. His most significant contribution to the field was his rejection of the then popular theory that race was a biological concept.
Interesting Franz Boas Facts:
Franz Boas was born in Westphalia to parents of Jewish descent.
His parents were liberal, educated and wealthy and encouraged young Franz to think for himself.
Boas was interested in natural history from an early age and wrote a high school research paper on the geographic distribution of plants.
He attended Heidelberg University for a semester and then transferred to Bonn University.
In 1879 he transferred to the University of Kiel and received a PhD in physics there in 1881 for his dissertation entitled "Contributions to the Understanding of the Color of Water" which examined the reflection, absorption and polarization of sea water.
His first love was geography and anthropology and he began to pursue those subjects.
In 1883 he went to Baffin Island to study the impact of environment on the Inuit people and he was profoundly affected by the experience.
His first ethnography, The Central Eskimo, was published in 1888.
His research led him to reject the then popular idea that acquired characteristics could be inherited.
In January 1887 he was offered a job as assistant editor of Science.
In 1888 he became a docent in anthropology at Clark University.
He gave lectures and wrote papers debunking the then prevalent idea that all cultures evolve through the same stages and all would eventually reach the highly evolved state of European culture.
His work with the Inuit and Native American peoples convinced him that local conditions and history shaped the cultural and technological development of a people.
In 1896 he became a lecturer in anthropology at Columbia University and his program eventually became the first PhD program in anthropology in America.
He contributed to each of the "four fields" of anthropology: physical anthropology, linguistics, archaeology and cultural anthropology.


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