Boas and Anthropology - Research Paper Example

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Boas and Anthropology

Boas's history shares a number of significant similarities with that of Bronislaw Malinowski. Both were central figures around which developed, in the 1920s, identifiable new schools of anthropological thought; both were immigrants to the countries in which they spent their working lives; both died in the U.S. in 1942 -- one, a wartime refugee from Europe, the other a laborer in the anti-fascist causes of intellectual freedom and refugee relief (Geertz, 1998). Julia Liss has convincingly argued that Boas and Malinowski's common experiences of alienation and immigration, reinforced in the experience of fieldwork and resolved in their theoretical searches for cultural coherence and social functioning, is the central thread which makes both figures "cosmopolitan" participants in the "modernist sensibility" (Geertz, 1998).
But beyond this common sensibility, and beyond the significant biographical similarities between the two men, Malinowski makes a rather more compelling exemplar of modernist anthropology on a number of largely textual grounds. In various accounts of modernist anthropology, the publication of Malinowski Argonauts of the Western Pacific ( 1922 ) serves as an epochal event -- akin to the 1913 Paris premiere of Stravinsky The Rite of Spring or the New York Armory Show of modern art of that same year -- for a number of narratively satisfying reasons. Not only did Argonauts put into monograph form the theory and practice of participant observation and signal the beginning of a functionalist theory. ...
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The following paper dwells on the origin of the anthropology discipline. According to the text, anthropology, though working within the language and methodologies of social science, also involves a writing practice comparable in many respects to that of the literary text. …
Author : connperry

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