"To inculcate respect for the Chinese" Berthold Laufer, Franz Boas, and the Chinese exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History, 1899-1912

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5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In 1900, Franz Boas sought to advance his anthropological vision by expanding Chinese holdings at the American Museum of Natural History. Chinese Culture, he believed, possessed a complexity that supported his model of societal development and disproved the widely accepted theory of cultural evolution. When an alliance with missionaries failed to yield desired artifacts, Boas arranged for Berthold Laufer to undertake collections in China. Fearing that modernizing forces would soon destroy traditional China, Laufer eagerly accepted. Sadly, the resulting exhibit ultimately fell prey to misunderstanding and controversy. In explaining its fate, this article illuminates the contentious nature of anthropology in this period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-144
Number of pages22
JournalAnthropos
Volume101
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

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museum
respect
China
missionary
history
anthropology
artifact
American Museum of Natural History
Franz Boas
Cultural Evolution
Alliances
Chinese Culture
Missionaries
Boas
Artifact
Holdings
Anthropology
Fate
Misunderstanding

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

Cite this

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