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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Birth of Anthropology

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy:
Franz Boas, the father of American anthropology, was German by birth and education, and had his intellectual roots in the German tradition, including not only Herder himself (whom he sometimes mentions by name) but also other Germans who were either directly or indirectly influenced by Herder in profound ways, such as W. von Humboldt, Steinthal, Bastian, Dilthey, and W. Wundt. Through Boas, this intellectual inheritance was passed on to his students in American anthropology (including Sapir, Lowie, Kroeber, Benedict, and Mead), and then to their students. On the other side of the Atlantic, Bronislaw Malinowski, the father of modern British anthropology as a discipline grounded in intensive fieldwork, had deep German intellectual roots that lead back to Herder as well. Malinowski sometimes explicitly mentions Herder and Herder's follower W. von Humboldt in a positive way. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Malinowski's father, who held the chair in Slavonic philology at the same university Malinowski attended in Poland, was a German-trained expert in philology and comparative grammar with a special interest in collecting folksongs and folklore — an intellectual profile which immediately places him under Herder's sphere of influence.