Alan H. McGowan, "The Political Activism of Anthropologist Franz Boas, Citizen Scientist" (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2024)


Alan McGowan delves into Franz Boas’s dual identity as both a scientist and a political activist, shedding light on how his work transcended academic boundaries to make a profound impact on society. In The Political Activism of Anthropologist Franz Boas, Citizen Scientist (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2024), McGowan provides a comprehensive overview of Boas’s career, from his groundbreaking research on cultural relativism to his advocacy for social justice and racial equality. By drawing on a wealth of primary sources and historical documents, he paints a vivid portrait of Boas as a multifaceted figure whose work was deeply intertwined with his political beliefs. Uncovering the intricate connection between his scientific endeavors and political beliefs, McGowan illuminates how Boas used his platform as an anthropologist to challenge societal norms and advocate for those on the fringes. Furthermore, the book offers valuable insights into the broader implications of Boas’s legacy. By emphasizing Boas’s commitment to antiracism, cultural relativism, and social justice, the author underscores the enduring relevance of Boas’s ideas in contemporary discussions on race, identity, and inequality. McGowan’s insightful analysis and engaging narrative style make this book a valuable resource for scholars, students, and anyone interested in the intersection of science, politics, and social change.

Alan H. McGowan is Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies at The New School. Prior to coming to The New School, he founded and was president of the Gene Media Forum, an arm of the Newhouse School of Journalism at Syracuse University. Previously, he was for twenty years the president of the Scientists’ Institute for Public Information, a major bridge between the scientific community and the media. His research interests focus on the intersection between science and technology and social issues, including ethics, politics, and the economy.

Yadong Li is a PhD student in anthropology at Tulane University. His research interests lie at the intersection of the anthropology of state, the anthropology of time, hope studies, and post-structuralist philosophy. More details about his scholarship and research interests can be found here.

Your Host

Yadong Li

Yadong Li is a PhD student in socio-cultural anthropology at the Tulane University of Louisiana. He is interested in the anthropology of time, hope studies, and post-structuralist philosophy. Please feel free to contact him by email: /
View Profile