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Anthropology and Modern Life

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  158 ratings  ·  12 reviews
The great anthropologist's classic treatise on race and culture. Discusses biological and cultural inheritance, the fallacy of racial, cultural or ethnic superiority, the scientific basis for human individuality, and much more. One of the most influential books of the century, now in a value-priced edition. Introduction by Ruth Bunzel.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 1st 1987 by Dover Publications
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3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  158 ratings  ·  12 reviews

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Dec 15, 2007 rated it liked it
This one is dense. It's good to read if you're extremely interested in the founding of modern day anthropology. I had to read this for my Foundations of Social Theory Seminar, and I'm glad I had to, but I would not pick it up in my free time.
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthropology
Franz Boaz was a German Jewish scholar who came to North America in the 1890s to study Native American tribes and ended up staying in the USA. He became the father of anthropology and taught many of the leading names in the early days of the field such as Ruth Benedict, Ruth Bendt and Margaret Mead. However, Boaz was also a very controversial figure. In the decades leading up to WWII, social scientists were often enamored with what I like to call the evil trinity of modern thought; eugenics, soc ...more
Jun 16, 2010 rated it liked it
This essay felt a little bit dated, but there was a useful treatment of the effect of race on human potential- material to keep in mind to ensure we promote a racism-free society. Boas contends that any population-averaged variations in human mental ability from race to race (if you can even properly pick out a race) would be swamped by the individual-to-individual variations due to other factors. Therefore, you should never deny any individual equal participation in society, because you can't t ...more
Dec 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthropology
Presenting: a book far ahead of its time. Boas uses findings of anthropological research to comment upon present social issues, namely those dealing with race. Written in a time of phrenology, segregation, pre-Nazism and scientific modernity's unfortunate peak into the categorization of human beings, this provides an enlightened rebuttal.

Though, there are a few moments where Boas becomes a man of his age. It was first apparent to me when he declared eugenics a "beautiful ideal" (regardless if he
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Extremely interesting and not too dense overview of the basic premises that have established American Anthropology as what it is today. I cannot find anything wrong really with this book; personally, I adore it, as it presents to you many examples of social issues and how anthropology can be used to tackle them. Reading this book simply will start "making you a better person," as my Anthro 101 professor would like to always say. It allows you to begin looking at culture as process rather than pr ...more
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Franz Boas, the daddy of American anthropology, gives his view on issues ranging from races and discrimination, nationalism, education, and... modern life. An influential book it sees, it argues many things that seem somewhat boring today because we take them for granted, especially in the first part of the book. But at the time the book was written, when racial discrimination was an important problem, who better to come and have his say on the issue than the student of man, the anthropologist? ...more
Michael Quinn
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the definitive books by the father of Anthropology.
Jun 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anthropologist fans
A classic book in the field of anthropology. Enlightening.
May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing

As dated as it seems, Anthropology and Modern Life was certainly quite extraordinary for its time; when Broca, Goddard, Lombroso and the social darwinists were at the peak of scientific legitimacy.
Jack Connolly
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
The context is obviously dated, but his message still resonates. A solid Anthropology book with many intriguing theories/ideas for anyone who know nothing of Anthropology, or have been studying it for years.
Nov 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Boas at his best.
Jan 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Really good!
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