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Pioneers of Anthropology


* Coming of Age in Samoa (1928) compared adolescence in Samoa and America, saw it didn t seem to exist in Samoan culture, so she concluded ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Pioneers of Anthropology

Pioneers of Anthropology
Social Darwinism
  • Darwins theory of natural selection was mis-
  • -applied to the social world, creating the
    idea of survival of the fittest those peoples
    less technologically advanced were inferior,
    and would be conquered or replaced by their
    superiors the inferior races could
    contaminate the superior western white people!
    (resulting in Hitlers death cult).
  • This theory of racial superiority was the
    background on which anthropology developed,
    before it became more objective and science-

Henry Louis Morgan U.S. 1818-1881
  • 1st to research aboriginal peoples of North
  • came up with a Theory of Social Evolution
  • The idea that social evolution occurred in 3
  • a) savagery
  • b) barbarism
  • c) civilization
  • - once widely accepted, now the assumption of
    social or cultural evolution is considered
    ethnocentric Morgan was judging other cultures
    according to ones values, his being the white,
    European-based culture.

Franz Boas U.S. 1858- 1942
  • the founder of American anthropology
  • (studied the language and culture of Inuit
    and West Coast natives dont write this!)
  • Believed in
  • a) - accurate records and a large data base
    (the scientific method)
  • b) believed in cultural relativism
    cultures should be judged
  • by their own values, as successful
    adaptations to their own
  • environments.
  • c) - established the importance of ethnology
    the study of
  • the origins, similarities, differences
    between races and cultures.

Ruth Benedict U.S. 1887 1948
  • Patterns of Culture, (on Plains native cultures)
  • and The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (on
    Japanese culture
  • life should be highly ritualized and
    perfectly executed)
  • looked at how culture and religion shape
  • concluded that cultures have personalities some
    cultures believed in restraint, and others might
    believe in fierceness.
  • ? Main idea the main personality traits of the
    culture become the
  • main personality traits of
    persons of that culture.

Margaret Mead U.S. 1901-1978
  • student of Franz Boas.
  • worked in the south Pacific islands of Polynesia
    and New Guinea.
  • broke the gender barriers of her time.
  • Coming of Age in Samoa (1928) compared
  • adolescence in Samoa and America, saw it
  • seem to exist in Samoan culture, so she
  • adolescence isnt a universally distinct
    or difficult
  • stage, unlike many cultures (i.e., its
  • her studies of 3 cultures in the south
    Pacific resulted in
  • her conclusion that, nurture
    (socialization) was
  • more influential in development than
  • This is where the Nature Nurture debate