Skip to Main Content

This chapter deals with the fate of museum anthropology in America following Franz Boas’s move from the American Museum of Natural History to Columbia University in 1905. As a case study of the American Museum of Natural History under Boas’s successor and former student, Clark Wissler, it focuses on the substitution of the concept of relative cultures for the idea of race as an explanation for human difference. These issues are explored with regard to the museum’s collecting in both North America and the Old World, as well as the resultant classification of relative culture areas in storage, publications, and exhibition. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the survival of racial theory among Boasian anthropologists as well as the contributions of their culture theory to the understanding and governance of cultural difference in America.

Don't already have an account? Register
Close Modal
This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal