Franz Boas
Name: Franz Boas
Occupation: Anthropologist
Gender: Male
Birth Day: July 9, 1858
Death Date: Dec 21, 1942 (age 84)
Age: Aged 84
Birth Place: Minden, Germany
Zodiac Sign: Cancer

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Franz Boas

Franz Boas was born on July 9, 1858 in Minden, Germany (84 years old). Franz Boas is an Anthropologist, zodiac sign: Cancer. Nationality: Germany. Approx. Net Worth: Undisclosed.


He taught at Columbia University, where Margaret Mead and Edward Sapir were among his students.

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As per our current Database, Franz Boas died on Dec 21, 1942 (age 84).


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Before Fame

Instead of studying in Berlin, he chose to study at the University of Kiel, specifically to be closer to his family.


Biography Timeline


Franz Boas was born on July 9, 1858, in Minden, Westphalia, the son of Sophie Meyer and Meier Boas. Although his grandparents were observant Jews, his parents embraced Enlightenment values, including their assimilation into modern German society. Boas's parents were educated, well-to-do, and liberal; they did not like dogma of any kind. An important early influence was the avuncular Abraham Jacobi, his mother's brother-in-law and a friend of Karl Marx, and who was to advise him through Boas's career. Due to this, Boas was granted the independence to think for himself and pursue his own interests. Early in life, he displayed a penchant for both nature and natural sciences. Boas vocally opposed antisemitism and refused to convert to Christianity, but he did not identify himself as a Jew. This is disputed however by Ruth Bunzel, a protégée of Boas, who called him "the essential protestant; he valued autonomy above all things." According to his biographer, "He was an 'ethnic' German, preserving and promoting German culture and values in America." In an autobiographical sketch, Boas wrote:


When he started his university studies, Boas first attended Heidelberg University for a semester followed by four terms at Bonn University, studying physics, geography, and mathematics at these schools. In 1879, he hoped to transfer to Berlin University to study physics under Hermann von Helmholtz, but ended up transferring to the University of Kiel instead due to family reasons. At Kiel, Boas wanted to focus on the mathematical topic of C.F. Gauss's law of the normal distribution of errors for his dissertation, however ultimately he had to settle for a topic chosen for him by his doctoral advisor, physicist Gustav Karsten, on the optical properties of water. Boas completed his dissertation entitled Contributions to the Perception of the Color of Water, which examined the absorption, reflection, and polarization of light in water, and was awarded a PhD in physics in 1881.


While at Bonn, Boas had attended geography classes taught by the geographer Theobald Fischer and the two established a friendship, with the coursework and friendship continuing after both relocated to Kiel at the same time. Fischer, a student of Carl Ritter, rekindled Boas' interest in geography and ultimately had more influence on him than did Karsten, and thus some biographers view Boas as more of a geographer than a physicist at this stage. In addition to the major in physics, Adams, citing Kroeber, states that "[i]n accordance with German tradition at the time ... he also had to defend six minor theses", and Boas likely completed a minor in geography, which would explain why Fischer was one of Boas' degree examiners. Because of this close relationship between Fischer and Boas, some biographers have gone so far as to incorrectly state that Boas "followed" Fischer to Kiel, and that Boas received a PhD in geography with Fischer as his doctoral advisor. For his part, Boas self-identified as a geographer by the time he completed his doctorate, prompting his sister, Toni, to write in 1883, "After long years of infidelity, my brother was re-conquered by geography, the first love of his boyhood."

Boas took up geography as a way to explore his growing interest in the relationship between subjective experience and the objective world. At the time, German geographers were divided over the causes of cultural variation. Many argued that the physical environment was the principal determining factor, but others (notably Friedrich Ratzel) argued that the diffusion of ideas through human migration is more important. In 1883, encouraged by Theobald Fischer, Boas went to Baffin Island to conduct geographic research on the impact of the physical environment on native Inuit migrations. The first of many ethnographic field trips, Boas culled his notes to write his first monograph titled The Central Eskimo, which was published in 1888 in the 6th Annual Report from the Bureau of American Ethnology. Boas lived and worked closely with the Inuit peoples on Baffin Island, and he developed an abiding interest in the way people lived.


In 1884, Kantian philosopher Wilhelm Windelband coined the terms nomothetic and idiographic to describe these two divergent approaches. He observed that most scientists employ some mix of both, but in differing proportions; he considered physics a perfect example of a nomothetic science, and history, an idiographic science. Moreover, he argued that each approach has its origin in one of the two "interests" of reason Kant had identified in the Critique of Judgement—one "generalizing", the other "specifying". (Winkelband's student Heinrich Rickert elaborated on this distinction in The Limits of Concept Formation in Natural Science : A Logical Introduction to the Historical Sciences; Boas's students Alfred Kroeber and Edward Sapir relied extensively on this work in defining their own approach to anthropology.)


While on Baffin Island he began to develop his interest in studying non-Western cultures (resulting in his book, The Central Eskimo, published in 1888). In 1885, Boas went to work with physical anthropologist Rudolf Virchow and ethnologist Adolf Bastian at the Royal Ethnological Museum in Berlin. Boas had studied anatomy with Virchow two years earlier while preparing for the Baffin Island expedition. At the time, Virchow was involved in a vociferous debate over evolution with his former student, Ernst Haeckel. Haeckel had abandoned his medical practice to study comparative anatomy after reading Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species, and vigorously promoted Darwin's ideas in Germany. However, like most other natural scientists prior to the rediscovery of Mendelian genetics in 1900 and the development of the modern synthesis, Virchow felt that Darwin's theories were weak because they lacked a theory of cellular mutability. Accordingly, Virchow favored Lamarckian models of evolution. This debate resonated with debates among geographers. Lamarckians believed that environmental forces could precipitate rapid and enduring changes in organisms that had no inherited source; thus, Lamarckians and environmental determinists often found themselves on the same side of debates.


He returned to Berlin to complete his studies. In 1886, Boas defended (with Helmholtz's support) his habilitation thesis, Baffin Land, and was named privatdozent in geography.

During Boas's lifetime, as today, many Westerners saw a fundamental difference between modern societies, which are characterized by dynamism and individualism, and traditional societies which are stable and homogeneous. Boas's empirical field research, however, led him to argue against this comparison. For example, his 1903 essay, "Decorative Designs of Alaskan Needlecases: A History of Conventional Designs, Based on Materials in a U.S. Museum", provides another example of how Boas made broad theoretical claims based on a detailed analysis of empirical data. After establishing formal similarities among the needlecases, Boas shows how certain formal features provide a vocabulary out of which individual artisans could create variations in design. Thus, his emphasis on culture as a context for meaningful action made him sensitive to individual variation within a society (William Henry Holmes suggested a similar point in an 1886 paper, "Origin and development of form and ornament in ceramic art", although unlike Boas he did not develop the ethnographic and theoretical implications).


While at the Royal Ethnological Museum Boas became interested in the Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest, and after defending his habilitation thesis, he left for a three-month trip to British Columbia via New York. In January 1887, he was offered a job as assistant editor of the journal Science. Alienated by growing antisemitism and nationalism as well as the very limited academic opportunities for a geographer in Germany, Boas decided to stay in the United States. Possibly he received additional motivation for this decision from his romance with Marie Krackowizer, whom he married in the same year. With a family underway and un der financial stress, Boas also resorted to pilfering bones and skulls from native burial sites to sell to museums.

The influence of these ideas on Boas is apparent in his 1887 essay, "The Study of Geography", in which he distinguished between physical science, which seeks to discover the laws governing phenomena, and historical science, which seeks a thorough understanding of phenomena on their own terms. Boas argued that geography is and must be historical in this sense. In 1887, after his Baffin Island expedition, Boas wrote "The Principles of Ethnological Classification", in which he developed this argument in application to anthropology:

Boas's rejection of Morgan's theories led him, in an 1887 article, to challenge Mason's principles of museum display. At stake, however, were more basic issues of causality and classification. The evolutionary approach to material culture led museum curators to organize objects on display according to function or level of technological development. Curators assumed that changes in the forms of artifacts reflect some natural process of progressive evolution. Boas, however, felt that the form an artifact took reflected the circumstances under which it was produced and used. Arguing that "[t]hough like causes have like effects like effects have not like causes", Boas realized that even artifacts that were similar in form might have developed in very different contexts, for different reasons. Mason's museum displays, organized along evolutionary lines, mistakenly juxtapose like effects; those organized along contextual lines would reveal like causes.


Aside from his editorial work at Science, Boas secured an appointment as docent in anthropology at Clark University, in 1888. Boas was concerned about university president G. Stanley Hall's interference in his research, yet in 1889 he was appointed as the head of a newly created department of anthropology at Clark University. In the early 1890s, he went on a series of expeditions which were referred to as the Morris K. Jesup Expedition. The primary goal of these expeditions was to illuminate Asiatic-American relations. In 1892 Boas, along with another member of the Clark faculty, resigned in protest of the alleged infringement by Hall on academic freedom.

Although some sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists have suggested that Boas was opposed to Darwinian evolution, Boas, in fact, was a committed proponent of Darwinian evolutionary thought. In 1888, he declared that "the development of ethnology is largely due to the general recognition of the principle of biological evolution"; since Boas's times, physical anthropologists have established that the human capacity for culture is a product of human evolution. In fact, Boas's research on changes in body form played an important role in the rise of Darwinian theory. Boas was trained at a time when biologists had no understanding of genetics; Mendelian genetics became widely known only after 1900. Prior to that time biologists relied on the measurement of physical traits as empirical data for any theory of evolution. Boas's biometric studies, however, led him to question the use of this method and kind of data. In a speech to anthropologists in Berlin in 1912, Boas argued that at best such statistics could only raise biological questions, and not answer them. It was in this context that anthropologists began turning to genetics as a basis for any understanding of biological variation.


His 1889 article "On Alternating Sounds", however, made a singular contribution to the methodology of both linguistics and cultural anthropology. It is a response to a paper presented in 1888 by Daniel Garrison Brinton, at the time a professor of American linguistics and archeology at the University of Pennsylvania. Brinton observed that in the spoken languages of many Native Americans, certain sounds regularly alternated. Brinton argued that this pervasive inconsistency was a sign of linguistic and evolutionary inferiority.


Anthropologist Frederic Ward Putnam, director and curator of the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, who had been appointed as head of the Department of Ethnology and Archeology for the Chicago Fair in 1892, chose Boas as his first assistant at Chicago to prepare for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition or Chicago World's Fair, the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas. Boas had a chance to apply his approach to exhibits. Boas directed a team of about one hundred assistants, mandated to create anthropology and ethnology exhibits on the Indians of North America and South America that were living at the time Christopher Columbus arrived in America while searching for India. Putnam intended the World's Columbian Exposition to be a celebration of Columbus' voyage. Putnam argued that showing late nineteenth century Inuit and First Nations (then called Eskimo and Indians) "in their natural conditions of life" would provide a contrast and celebrate the four centuries of Western accomplishments since 1493.


In 1896, Boas was appointed Assistant Curator of Ethnology and Somatology of the American Museum of Natural History under Putnam. In 1897, he organized the Jesup North Pacific Expedition, a five-year-long field-study of the nations of the Pacific Northwest, whose ancestors had migrated across the Bering Strait from Siberia. He attempted to organize exhibits along contextual, rather than evolutionary, lines. He also developed a research program in line with his curatorial goals: describing his instructions to his students in terms of widening contexts of interpretation within a society, he explained that "... they get the specimens; they get explanations of the specimens; they get connected texts that partly refer to the specimens and partly to abstract things concerning the people; and they get grammatical information". These widening contexts of interpretation were abstracted into one context, the context in which the specimens, or assemblages of specimens, would be displayed: "... we want a collection arranged according to tribes, in order to teach the particular style of each group". His approach, however, brought him into conflict with the President of the Museum, Morris Jesup, and its director, Hermon Bumpus. By 1900 Boas had begun to retreat from American museum anthropology as a tool of education or reform (Hinsley 1992: 361). He resigned in 1905, never to work for a museum again.

Boas was appointed a lecturer in physical anthropology at Columbia University in 1896, and promoted to professor of anthropology in 1899. However, the various anthropologists teaching at Columbia had been assigned to different departments. When Boas left the Museum of Natural History, he negotiated with Columbia University to consolidate the various professors into one department, of which Boas would take charge. Boas's program at Columbia was the first Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in anthropology in America.


Boas initially broke with evolutionary theory over the issue of kinship. Lewis Henry Morgan had argued that all human societies move from an initial form of matrilineal organization to patrilineal organization. First Nations groups on the northern coast of British Columbia, like the Tsimshian, and Tlingit, were organized into matrilineal clans. First Nations on the southern coast, like the Nootka and the Salish, however, were organized into patrilineal groups. Boas focused on the Kwakiutl, who lived between the two clusters. The Kwakiutl seemed to have a mix of features. Prior to marriage, a man would assume his wife's father's name and crest. His children took on these names and crests as well, although his sons would lose them when they got married. Names and crests thus stayed in the mother's line. At first, Boas—like Morgan before him—suggested that the Kwakiutl had been matrilineal like their neighbors to the north, but that they were beginning to evolve patrilineal groups. In 1897, however, he repudiated himself, and argued that the Kwakiutl were changing from a prior patrilineal organization to a matrilineal one, as they learned about matrilineal principles from their northern neighbors.

In his capacity as Assistant Curator at the American Museum of Natural History, Franz Boas requested that Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary bring one Inuk from Greenland to New York. Peary obliged and brought six Inuit to New York in 1897 who lived in the basement of the American Museum of Natural History. Four of them died from tuberculosis within a year of arriving in New York, one returned to Greenland, and a young boy, Minik Wallace, remained living in the museum. Boas staged a funeral for the father of the boy and had the remains dissected and placed in the museum. Boas has been widely critiqued for his role in bringing the Inuit to New York and his disinterest in them once they had served their purpose at the museum.


Between 1901 and 1911, Columbia University produced seven PhDs in anthropology. Although by today's standards this is a very small number, at the time it was sufficient to establish Boas's Anthropology Department at Columbia as the preeminent anthropology program in the country. Moreover, many of Boas's students went on to establish anthropology programs at other major universities.


During this time Boas played a key role in organizing the American Anthropological Association (AAA) as an umbrella organization for the emerging field. Boas originally wanted the AAA to be limited to professional anthropologists, but W. J. McGee (another geologist who had joined the BAE under Powell's leadership) argued that the organization should have an open membership. McGee's position prevailed and he was elected the organization's first president in 1902; Boas was elected a vice-president, along with Putnam, Powell, and Holmes.


These questions signal a marked break from then-current ideas about human diversity, which assumed that some people have a history, evident in a historical (or written) record, while other people, lacking writing, also lack history. For some, this distinction between two different kinds of societies explained the difference between history, sociology, economics and other disciplines that focus on people with writing, and anthropology, which was supposed to focus on people without writing. Boas rejected this distinction between kinds of societies, and this division of labor in the academy. He understood all societies to have a history, and all societies to be proper objects of the anthropological society. In order to approach literate and non-literate societies the same way, he emphasized the importance of studying human history through the analysis of other things besides written texts. Thus, in his 1904 article, "The History of Anthropology", Boas wrote that


This emphasis also led Boas to conclude that anthropologists have an obligation to speak out on social issues. Boas was especially concerned with racial inequality, which his research had indicated is not biological in origin, but rather social. Boas is credited as the first scientist to publish the idea that all people—including white and African Americans—are equal. He often emphasized his abhorrence of racism, and used his work to show that there was no scientific basis for such a bias. An early example of this concern is evident in his 1906 commencement address to Atlanta University, at the invitation of W. E. B. Du Bois. Boas began by remarking that "If you did accept the view that the present weakness of the American Negro, his uncontrollable emotions, his lack of energy, are racially inherent, your work would still be noble one". He then went on, however, to argue against this view. To the claim that European and Asian civilizations are, at the time, more advanced than African societies, Boas objected that against the total history of humankind, the past two thousand years is but a brief span. Moreover, although the technological advances of our early ancestors (such as taming fire and inventing stone tools) might seem insignificant when compared to the invention of the steam engine or control over electricity, we should consider that they might actually be even greater accomplishments. Boas then went on to catalogue advances in Africa, such as smelting iron, cultivating millet, and domesticating chickens and cattle, that occurred in Africa well before they spread to Europe and Asia (evidence now suggests that chickens were first domesticated in Asia; the original domestication of cattle is under debate). He then described the activities of African kings, diplomats, merchants, and artists as evidence of cultural achievement. From this, he concluded, any social inferiority of Negroes in the United States cannot be explained by their African origins:


In his 1907 essay, "Anthropology", Boas identified two basic questions for anthropologists: "Why are the tribes and nations of the world different, and how have the present differences developed?" Amplifying these questions, he explained the object of anthropological study thus:


Boas remained active in the development and scholarship of folklore throughout his life. He became the editor of the Journal of American Folklore in 1908, regularly wrote and published articles on folklore (often in the Journal of American Folklore). He helped to elect Louise Pound as president of the American Folklore Society in 1925.


Boas's first doctoral student at Columbia was Alfred L. Kroeber (1901), who, along with fellow Boas student Robert Lowie (1908), started the anthropology program at the University of California, Berkeley. He also trained William Jones (1904), one of the first Native American Indian anthropologists (the Fox nation) who was killed while conducting research in the Philippines in 1909, and Albert B. Lewis (1907). Boas also trained a number of other students who were influential in the development of academic anthropology: Frank Speck (1908) who trained with Boas but received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and immediately proceeded to found the anthropology department there; Edward Sapir (1909) and Fay-Cooper Cole (1914) who developed the anthropology program at the University of Chicago; Alexander Goldenweiser (1910), who, with Elsie Clews Parsons (who received her doctorate in sociology from Columbia in 1899, but then studied ethnology with Boas), started the anthropology program at the New School for Social Research; Leslie Spier (1920) who started the anthropology program at the University of Washington together with his wife Erna Gunther, also one of Boas's students, and Melville Herskovits (1923) who started the anthropology program at Northwestern University. He also trained John R. Swanton (who studied with Boas at Columbia for two years before receiving his doctorate from Harvard in 1900), Paul Radin (1911), Ruth Benedict (1923), Gladys Reichard (1925) who had begun teaching at Barnard College in 1921 and was later promoted to the rank of professor, Ruth Bunzel (1929), Alexander Lesser (1929), Margaret Mead (1929), and Gene Weltfish (who defended her dissertation in 1929, although she did not officially graduate until 1950 when Columbia reduced the expenses required to graduate), E. Adamson Hoebel (1934), Jules Henry (1935), George Herzog (1938),and Ashley Montagu (1938).


Boas was also critical of one nation imposing its power over others. In 1916, Boas wrote a letter to The New York Times which was published under the headline, "Why German-Americans Blame America". Although Boas did begin the letter by protesting bitter attacks against German Americans at the time of the war in Europe, most of his letter was a critique of American nationalism. "In my youth, I had been taught in school and at home not only to love the good of my own country, but also to seek to understand and to respect the individualities of other nations. For this reason, one-sided nationalism, that is so often found nowadays, is to be unendurable." He writes of his love for American ideals of freedom, and of his growing discomfort with American beliefs about its own superiority over others.

Boas's stance against spying took place in the context of his struggle to establish a new model for academic anthropology at Columbia University. Previously, American anthropology was based at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and the Peabody Museum at Harvard, and these anthropologists competed with Boas's students for control over the American Anthropological Association (and its flagship publication American Anthropologist). When the National Academy of Sciences established the National Research Council in 1916 as a means by which scientists could assist the United States government to prepare for entry into the war in Europe, competition between the two groups intensified. Boas's rival, W. H. Holmes (who had gotten the job of Director at the Field Museum for which Boas had been passed over 26 years earlier), was appointed to head the NRC; Morley was a protégé of Holmes.


His students at Columbia also included Mexican anthropologist Manuel Gamio, who earned his Master of Arts degree after studying with Boas from 1909 to 1911, and became the founding director of Mexico's Bureau of Anthropology in 1917; Clark Wissler, who received his doctorate in psychology from Columbia University in 1901, but proceeded to study anthropology with Boas before turning to research Native Americans; Esther Schiff, later Goldfrank, worked with Boas in the summers of 1920 to 1922 to conduct research among the Cochiti and Laguna Pueblo Indians in New Mexico; Gilberto Freyre, who shaped the concept of "racial democracy" in Brazil; Viola Garfield, who carried forth Boas's Tsimshian work; Frederica de Laguna, who worked on the Inuit and the Tlingit; and anthropologist, folklorist and novelist Zora Neale Hurston, who graduated from Barnard College, the women's college associated with Columbia, in 1928, and who studied African American and Afro-Caribbean folklore.


Although Boas felt that scientists have a responsibility to speak out on social and political problems, he was appalled that they might involve themselves in disingenuous and deceitful ways. Thus, in 1919, when he discovered that four anthropologists, in the course of their research in other countries, were serving as spies for the American government, he wrote an angry letter to The Nation. It is perhaps in this letter that he most clearly expresses his understanding of his commitment to science:


In a programmatic essay in 1920, "The Methods of Ethnology", Boas argued that instead of "the systematic enumeration of standardized beliefs and customs of a tribe", anthropology needs to document "the way in which the individual reacts to his whole social environment, and to the difference of opinion and of mode of action that occur in primitive society and which are the causes of far-reaching changes". Boas argued that attention to individual agency reveals that "the activities of the individual are determined to a great extent by his social environment, but in turn, his own activities influence the society in which he lives and may bring about modifications in a form". Consequently, Boas thought of culture as fundamentally dynamic: "As soon as these methods are applied, primitive society loses the appearance of absolute stability ... All cultural forms rather appear in a constant state of flux ..." (see Lewis 2001b)

Using these methods, Boas published another article in 1920, in which he revisited his earlier research on Kwakiutl kinship. In the late 1890s, Boas had tried to reconstruct transformation in the organization of Kwakiutl clans, by comparing them to the organization of clans in other societies neighboring the Kwakiutl to the north and south. Now, however, he argued against translating the Kwakiutl principle of kin groups into an English word. Instead of trying to fit the Kwakiutl into some larger model, he tried to understand their beliefs and practices in their own terms. For example, whereas he had earlier translated the Kwakiutl word numaym as "clan", he now argued that the word is best understood as referring to a bundle of privileges, for which there is no English word. Men secured claims to these privileges through their parents or wives, and there were a variety of ways these privileges could be acquired, used, and transmitted from one generation to the next. As in his work on alternating sounds, Boas had come to realize that different ethnological interpretations of Kwakiutl kinship were the result of the limitations of Western categories. As in his work on Alaskan needlecases, he now saw variation among Kwakiutl practices as the result of the play between social norms and individual creativity.


Before his death in 1942, he appointed Helen Codere to edit and publish his manuscripts about the culture of the Kwakiutl people.

Franz Boas died suddenly at the Columbia University Faculty Club on December 21, 1942, in the arms of Claude Lévi-Strauss. By that time he had become one of the most influential and respected scientists of his generation.


Although context and history were essential elements to Boas's understanding of anthropology as Geisteswissenschaften and Geschichtswissenschaften, there is one essential element that Boasian anthropology shares with Naturwissenschaften: empiricism. In 1949, Boas's student, Alfred Kroeber summed up the three principles of empiricism that define Boasian anthropology as a science:


Nevertheless, Boas has had an enduring influence on anthropology. Virtually all anthropologists today accept Boas's commitment to empiricism and his methodological cultural relativism. Moreover, virtually all cultural anthropologists today share Boas's commitment to field research involving extended residence, learning the local language, and developing social relationships with informants. Finally, anthropologists continue to honor his critique of racial ideologies. In his 1963 book, Race: The History of an Idea in America, Thomas Gossett wrote that "It is possible that Boas did more to combat race prejudice than any other person in history."


These findings were radical at the time and continue to be debated. In 2002, the anthropologists Corey S. Sparks and Richard L. Jantz claimed that differences between children born to the same parents in Europe and America were very small and insignificant and that there was no detectable effect of exposure to the American environment on the cranial index in children. They argued that their results contradicted Boas's original findings and demonstrated that they may no longer be used to support arguments of plasticity in cranial morphology. However, Jonathan Marks—a well-known physical anthropologist and former president of the General Anthropology section of the American Anthropological Association—has remarked that this revisionist study of Boas's work "has the ring of desperation to it (if not obfuscation), and has been quickly rebutted by more mainstream biological anthropology". In 2003 anthropologists Clarence C. Gravlee, H. Russell Bernard, and William R. Leonard reanalyzed Boas's data and concluded that most of Boas's original findings were correct. Moreover, they applied new statistical, computer-assisted methods to Boas's data and discovered more evidence for cranial plasticity. In a later publication, Gravlee, Bernard and Leonard reviewed Sparks and Jantz's analysis. They argue that Sparks and Jantz misrepresented Boas's claims and that Sparks's and Jantz's data actually support Boas. For example, they point out that Sparks and Jantz look at changes in cranial size in relation to how long an individual has been in the United States in order to test the influence of the environment. Boas, however, looked at changes in cranial size in relation to how long the mother had been in the United States. They argue that Boas's method is more useful because the prenatal environment is a crucial developmental factor.

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