Anthropologist Franz Boas

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UPDATE 10/10/14: It seems that Google has neglected this archive and it no longer works properly. Some discussion about this failure here

Time-Life has teamed up with Google to archive their images online. Browsing around I found this gem, a picture of “Anthropologist Franz Boas” from the cover of Time in 1936 (When he was 78). The caption reads: “He translated the world’s gestures.”

UPDATE: Link to article text. (Thanks to raggedrobin!) Here’s a snippet (emphasis added):

Franz Boas got into anthropology 53 years ago. He has invaded almost every branch of this science: linguistics, primitive mentality, folklore, ethnology, growth and senility, the physical effects of environment. He reminds his colleagues of the oldtime family doctor who did everything from delivering babies to pulling teeth.

3 thoughts on “Anthropologist Franz Boas

  1. That’s great. And here’s the accompanying article.

    Some bits on the gesture study:
    In Washington last week one of the world’s most distinguished anthropologists told the National Academy of Sciences about an Englishman who was raised in Italy and married a Jewess. In consequence this Englishman’s gestures gradually became half Italian, half Jewish.…
    Postures and gesticulations are good indicators of motor habits. To sort out cultural from biological factors, therefore, Dr. Boas made motion pictures of conversational gestures of different nationalities, projected the frames slowly one after another, translated the movements. Typical findings:
    “Italian gestures are characterized by a wide, symmetrical sweep from the shoulders. Furthermore they are symbolic. The gestures have definite meanings, many of which can be traced back to antiquity. . . .
    Dr. Boas’ conclusion from all this is direct and simple : motor habits are cultural, not biological.

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