Franz Boas Potlatch

Decent Essays
Recently, anthropology has not been seen in the highest of regards nor the brightest of lights, but it is still a very crucial and important science that helps us better understand different cultures and societies. When Franz Boas travelled to the far Northwest of North America in the 1880’s to study the ritual on the potlatches, he noted an ongoing conflict between the Canadian government and the Inuit people. The potlatch ceremony was an ancient ritual that displayed one’s wealth and power by giving away his possessions and throwing a big dance for those invited. The people of this region held this tradition very dear to their hearts as it included an economic, political, kinship, and religious element. However, the Canadian and American…show more content…
Today, we have rules that must be followed in order for an anthropologist to begin research. After the First Neur War in the early 1900’s, the British required an anthropologist to live among the people and study them to figure out how the Nuer people were able to gather and disappear large armies so fast. After the anthropologist was finished with his research, the British used his information to destroy the Nuer people. This is not how we function today. Anthropologist are not spies and in order to gain entrance into a community, permission is necessary. Lee easily find his way to the Dobe waterhole and asks the Dobe people if he could “come and stay with them and learn their language” and “after much discussion they agreed” (Lee 1967:6). Lee exemplifies what an anthropologist should do when entering a community and immediately gains friendly relations. Upon the agreement of entrance, we must let the participants know who we are, why we are here, what will we do with the knowledge, where the information will be stored and how they may inadvertently be harmed. After this exchange takes place, our next goal is to establish rapport, or the emotional connection between the anthropologists and the participants in his or her research. We have noticed that relationships are the tool for anthropological research and it is vital we not only study but we get to know who we are studying to get a better insight of their lives. In another piece by Lee called “Christmas in the Kalahari” he plans a big feast for the Ju, to thank them for the past year of information and wants to buy them the biggest ox money can buy. However, when he shows the Ju the ox, they mock and ridicule him to make him feel bad. He learns that this is how they humble their hunters so no one person gets a big ego and creates a balance among the tribe. After the feast, Lee say “I had been been
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