By Jill B. R. Cherneff, Eve Hochwald, Sydel Silverman
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Additional resources for Visionary Observers: Anthropological Inquiry and Education (Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology)
Our own soci- regna darnell 19 ety as well followed habits learned in childhood. Educational methods were dependent upon “our ideals” (187), despite rare consciousness of the conﬂict in democratic society between individual freedom and the teaching of shared symbols restricting such freedom. Boas argued, in the same year that his former student Margaret Mead published Coming of Age in Samoa (1928), that traumatic adolescence might be a product of such cultural conﬂict for the individual rather than a cultural universal.
2. Ruth Benedict Relativist and Universalist Virginia Heyer Young Ruth Benedict in the American Southwest in the 1930s. Courtesy of the National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution (86-1323). Among the many accomplishments of Ruth Benedict (1887–1948) are developing the concept of cultural conﬁguration, applying psychology to the study of culture, and using anthropological insights to interpret complex cultures. Closely associated with Franz Boas, her teacher, and Margaret Mead, her student, she shared with them the belief that the anthropological perspective is vital to understanding human behavior and to improving our own society; and a commitment to scientiﬁc activism that furthers tolerance, democracy, and human acceptance of difference based on culture but not race.
Somewhat more than half the book preceded its turn to culture. Although the rate of change in so-called primitive societies was quite gradual, culture could be understood as stable. Moreover, both “primitive” and “civilized men” [sic] were wont to rationalize the forms of their culture. Rational and irrational elements coexisted in both. Boas turned next to education, in the narrow sense of schooling and socialization, gradually broadening his deﬁnition to include the continuing education of citizens.