Essay about The Man Of American Anthropology

Essay about The Man Of American Anthropology

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In the field of Anthropology there have been many men and women whom have made significant contributions. While there have been many well known contributors two of the most well known are Franz Boas and Bronislaw Malinowski. In the United States Franz Boas is known as the “Father of American Anthropology”. Boas believed that the study of people and their culture should be conducted scientifically, using the scientific method. Bronislaw Malinowski is especially known for his revolutionary field work methods. Both men are considered revolutionaries for their input to the field of anthropology through their improvements in techniques and methods, and for their input on long standing theories and ideas, which influenced many future anthropologists.
Before the influence of Boas and Malinowski, people, mostly white upper class men, would study the culture of “primitive” people from distant places through the written accounts from soldiers or missionaries. Men such as Herbert Spencer and Lewis Morgan did not perform their own field work. They both based their observations and their theories from the written accounts of others. Boas and Malinowski both believed it was important to personally go out into the field and observe people and their culture first hand. Boas was the first to suggest the idea and Malinowski supported it and even added to it by stating observers should have daily contact.
Malinowski also made the revolutionary observation that the anthropologists were making comparisons between their own culture and that of the one they were studying. This showed that much of the information that had been obtained up to that point could be greatly biased. By comparing a different culture to ones own, one culture may be seen as “i...


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...ld in person became the new standard. The new method of detailed record keeping, even of minute details, to get the best understanding of the society and of the people. These techniques can be seen in the work of later anthropologists, especially the students of Boas, whose influence is seen in their books. Mead and Benedict went into the field to study and observe. Both women were able to gather intricate knowledge of life in that culture, only possible if they spent a large quantity of time with the people and gained their trust, much like how Malinowski did. Through their work, not only were Boas and Malinowski able to change how anthropological research is conducted, but they were also able to shed new light on prevalent theories at the time. It is through the efforts of Boas, Malinowski, and others that anthropology has led to a greater understand of each other.

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