Susan Pollock Reinhard Bernbeck

Franz Boas: Between Anti-Racism and Reification

Published: 2024-01-22 | DOI: 10.54799/RGBN4865


Franz Boas has often been lauded for his anti-racist stance. A closer look at his scholarship suggests that he was, at best, inconsistent in this regard, especially in terms of his engagements with Afro-Americans versus Native Americans. We examine his collecting practices, in particular his acquisition of human remains, during his early research trips, arguing that these reveal quite problematic attitudes towards Native Americans. We frame our arguments by drawing on Axel Honneth’s recognition theory and his distinctions between recognition, reification and objectification. We contend that Boas’s work was, despite his many important contributions, also pervaded by epistemic and structural violence.

How to Cite

Pollock, Susan, and Reinhard Bernbeck. 2024. “Franz Boas: Between Anti-Racism and Reification”. EAZ – Ethnographisch-Archaeologische Zeitschrift 57 (1).
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