Anthony Q. HazardJul 28, 2021
Boasians at War
Anthropology, Race, and World War II
Palgrave Macmillan 2020
The realities of race that continue to plague the United States have direct ties to anthropology. Anthropologists often imagine their discipline as inherently anti-racist and historically connected to social justice movements. But just how true is that? In Boasians at War: Anthropology, Race, and World War II (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) Anthony Hazard examines the work of Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict, Ashley Montagu, Margaret Mead, and Melville Herskovits to examine the ways they did -- or didn't -- theorize the emergence of racism as both systemic and interpersonal. Putting their work in the context of the black freedom struggle, Hazard evaluates the ways in which these anthropologists engaged racism both in the discipline of anthropology and in the wider world.
In this episode of the podcast, host Alex Golub sits down with Tony and has a frank talk about the strengths and weaknesses of some of American cultural anthropology's key figures. They also discuss some 'meta' questions, including how we should judge people who lived in a different time and different context from us, and where the line between 'ally' and 'co-conspirator' as anthropologists and other academics take their moral sensibilities outside the academy and into the broader world.
Associate professor of anthropology, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa