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Indigenous VisionsRediscovering the World of Franz Boas$
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Ned Blackhawk and Isaiah Lorado Wilner

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780300196511

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300196511.001.0001

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Why White People Love Franz Boas; or, The Grammar of Indigenous Dispossession

Why White People Love Franz Boas; or, The Grammar of Indigenous Dispossession

(p.166) Chapter 7 Why White People Love Franz Boas; or, The Grammar of Indigenous Dispossession
Indigenous Visions

Audra Simpson

Yale University Press

This chapter explores the significance of Franz Boas's treatise on race and culture, The Mind of Primitive Man, attending to the text through a reading of its articulation of social ideals and their theoretical and political implications. Such a reading shows that Boas's work of 1911 was far from the revolutionary or paradigm-shifting text it has been hailed as. Instead, a set of conclusions emerge that require further conceptual and political attention, particularly regarding the dispossession of indigenous peoples. Rather than liberating indigenous people from colonialism The Mind of Primitive Man erases indigeneity. It establishes a dualistic binary regarding the value of cultural and bodily differences and their presumed vitality and value as well as their suitability for state and settler absorption. Its political use, then, remains in keeping a particular political order intact.

Keywords:   Franz Boas, The Mind of Primitive Man, social ideals, indigenous peoples, dispossession, colonialism, political order

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