chapter  6
The Passion of Franz Boas
ByHerbert S. Lewis
Pages 38

This chapter offers a view of Franz Boas, with specific reference to his political activities and his relations with others, that the author hope may encourage some readers to be more understanding of Franz Boas and more critical of the negative claims. In January 1905, Franz Boas submitted a proposal to the Bureau of American Ethnology and the Carnegie Foundation for a massive comparative study, focusing on American Indian and Negro populations. The period of First World War was a time of controversy in intellectual and politically liberal circles in the United States, and it was a source of great distress for Boas for many reasons. When a Cuban professor was jailed by the dictator Fulgencio Batista, Boas wrote to a leading Latin Americanist, Carleton Beals, recommending action. He was as farsighted and clear-eyed as anyone in his time; an opponent of racism, ethnocentrism, inequality, chauvinism, imperialism, colonialism, war, censorship, and political cant and mind-fogging sloganeering.