Bill Angelbeck

Franz Boas Refracted Through His Local Collaborators: A Legacy with Implications for Collaborative Archaeologies

Published: 2023-06-08 | DOI: 10.54799/KXNO4508


Collaborative ethnographies and community-based archaeologies have become more commonplace throughout anthropology in recent decades. Well over a century ago, Franz Boas initiated collaborations with Indigenous community members. Some of his Indigenous collaborators became recognized scholars themselves, such as George Hunt (Tlingit/Kwakwaka’wakw) and William Beynon (Tsimshian). He also involved James Teit, a settler from the Shetlands who married a Nlaka’pamux woman and became an exemplary anthropologist and advocate for Indigenous rights. Here, I will discuss how these close collaborations transformed Boas’s thinking, with ramifications throughout the discipline. In these examples, we find a dialectical interplay whereby Indigenous groups actively sought to use the anthropological medium to their needs; in turn, anthropologists like Boas and Teit recognized the scholarly need for activism to aid Indigenous groups under the constraints of colonial rule. In important ways, however, Boas did not meet the standards that his own ideas set forth. These partnerships from over a century ago still have implications for contemporary collaborations as instructive histories of successes and failures, for both theory in the expansion of interpretative potential and range and for anthropological praxis in the context of settler-colonial relationships.

How to Cite

Angelbeck, Bill. 2023. “Franz Boas Refracted Through His Local Collaborators: A Legacy With Implications for Collaborative Archaeologies”. EAZ – Ethnographisch-Archaeologische Zeitschrift 57 (1).
James Teit in 1922. Photo: Wikipedia Commons.
James Teit in 1922. Photo: Wikipedia Commons.
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