Recently analyzed sites:
Daily sugar intake 'should be halved ' ". From this, he concluded, any social inferiority of Negroes in the United States cannot be explained by their African origins:. When Boas's student Ruth Benedict gave her presidential address to the American Anthropological Association in , she reminded anthropologists of the importance of this idiographic stance by quoting literary critic A. Smallpox and Its Eradication. This echoed a popular misreading of Darwin that suggested that human beings are descended from chimpanzees.
Ulan Nutritional Systems home page
Historians working in the Humboldtian tradition developed ideas that would become central in Boasian anthropology. Leopold von Ranke defined the task of the historian as "merely to show as it actually was", which is a cornerstone of Boas's empiricism.
Wilhelm Dilthey emphasized the centrality of "understanding" to human knowledge, and that the lived experience of a historian could provide a basis for an empathic understanding of the situation of a historical actor. The influence of these ideas on Boas is apparent in his essay, "The Study of Geography," in which he distinguished between physical science, which seeks to discover the laws governing phenomena, and historical science, which seeks a thorough understanding of phenomena on their own terms.
Boas argued that geography is and must be historical in this sense. In , after his Baffin Island expedition, Boas wrote "The Principles of Ethnological Classification", in which he developed this argument in application to anthropology:.
Ethnological phenomena are the result of the physical and psychical character of men, and of its development under the influence of the surroundings Furthermore, the study of the present surroundings is insufficient: This formulation echoes Ratzel's focus on historical processes of human migration and culture contact and Bastian's rejection of environmental determinism.
It also emphasizes culture as a context "surroundings" , and the importance of history. These are the hallmarks of Boasian anthropology which Marvin Harris would later call " historical particularism " , would guide Boas's research over the next decade, as well as his instructions to future students.
Although context and history were essential elements to Boas's understanding of anthropology as Geisteswissenschaften and Geschichtswissenschaften , there is one essential element that Boasian anthropology shares with Naturwissenschaften: In , Boas's student, Alfred Kroeber summed up the principles of empiricism that define Boasian anthropology as a science:.
One of the greatest accomplishments of Boas and his students was their critique of theories of physical, social, and cultural evolution current at that time. This critique is central to Boas's work in museums, as well as his work in all four fields of anthropology. As historian George Stocking noted, however, Boas's main project was to distinguish between biological and cultural heredity, and to focus on the cultural processes that he believed had the greatest influence over social life.
Morgan and Edward Burnett Tylor. Boas rejected the prevalent theories of social evolution developed by Edward Burnett Tylor , Lewis Henry Morgan , and Herbert Spencer not because he rejected the notion of "evolution" per se, but because he rejected orthogenetic notions of evolution in favor of Darwinian evolution.
The difference between these prevailing theories of cultural evolution and Darwinian theory cannot be overstated: Thus, although the Inuit with whom Boas worked at Baffin Island , and the Germans with whom he studied as a graduate student, were contemporaries of one another, evolutionists argued that the Inuit were at an earlier stage in their evolution, and Germans at a later stage.
This echoed a popular misreading of Darwin that suggested that human beings are descended from chimpanzees. In fact, Darwin argued that chimpanzees and humans are equally evolved. What characterizes Darwinian theory is its attention to the processes by which one species transforms into another; "adaptation" as a key principle in explaining the relationship between a species and its environment; and "natural selection" as a mechanism of change. In contrast, Morgan, Spencer, and Tylor had little to say about the process and mechanics of change.
Furthermore, Darwin built up his theory through a careful examination of considerable empirical data. Boasian research revealed that virtually every claim made by cultural evolutionists was contradicted by the data, or reflected a profound misinterpretation of the data. As Boas's student Robert Lowie remarked, "Contrary to some misleading statements on the subject, there have been no responsible opponents of evolution as 'scientifically proved', though there has been determined hostility to an evolutionary metaphysics that falsifies the established facts".
Although the idea does not appear quite definitely expressed in Darwin's discussion of the development of mental powers, it seems quite clear that his main object has been to express his conviction that the mental faculties developed essentially without a purposive end, but they originated as variations, and were continued by natural selection.
This idea was also brought out very clearly by Wallace, who emphasized that apparently reasonable activities of man might very well have developed without an actual application of reasoning. Thus, Boas suggested that what appear to be patterns or structures in a culture were not a product of conscious design, but rather the outcome of diverse mechanisms that produce cultural variation such as diffusion and independent invention , shaped by the social environment in which people live and act.
Boas concluded his lecture by acknowledging the importance of Darwin's work:. I hope I may have succeeded in presenting to you, however imperfectly, the currents of thought due to the work of the immortal Darwin which have helped to make anthropology what it is at the present time.
In the late 19th century anthropology in the United States was dominated by the Bureau of American Ethnology , directed by John Wesley Powell , a geologist who favored Lewis Henry Morgan 's theory of cultural evolution. Mason , shared Powell's commitment to cultural evolution. The Peabody Museum at Harvard University was an important, though lesser, center of anthropological research. It was while working on museum collections and exhibitions that Boas formulated his basic approach to culture, which led him to break with museums and seek to establish anthropology as an academic discipline.
During this period Boas made five more trips to the Pacific Northwest. His continuing field research led him to think of culture as a local context for human action.
His emphasis on local context and history led him to oppose the dominant model at the time, cultural evolution. Boas initially broke with evolutionary theory over the issue of kinship. Lewis Henry Morgan had argued that all human societies move from an initial form of matrilineal organization to patrilineal organization. First Nations groups on the northern coast of British Columbia, like the Tsimshian , and Tlingit , were organized into matrilineal clans.
First Nations on the southern coast, like the Nootka and the Salish , however, were organized into patrilineal groups. Boas focused on the Kwakiutl , who lived between the two clusters. The Kwakiutl seemed to have a mix of features. Prior to marriage, a man would assume his wife's father's name and crest. His children took on these names and crests as well, although his sons would lose them when they got married.
Names and crests thus stayed in the mother's line. At first, Boas—like Morgan before him—suggested that the Kwakiutl had been matrilineal like their neighbors to the north, but that they were beginning to evolve patrilineal groups.
In , however, he repudiated himself, and argued that the Kwakiutl were changing from a prior patrilineal organization to a matrilineal one, as they learned about matrilineal principles from their northern neighbors. Boas's rejection of Morgan's theories led him, in an article, to challenge Mason's principles of museum display.
At stake, however, were more basic issues of causality and classification. The evolutionary approach to material culture led museum curators to organize objects on display according to function or level of technological development.
Curators assumed that changes in the forms of artifacts reflect some natural process of progressive evolution. Boas, however, felt that the form an artifact took reflected the circumstances under which it was produced and used. Arguing that "[t]hough like causes have like effects like effects have not like causes", Boas realized that even artifacts that were similar in form might have developed in very different contexts, for different reasons. Mason's museum displays, organized along evolutionary lines, mistakenly juxtapose like effects; those organized along contextual lines would reveal like causes.
Peary bring one Inuk from Greenland to New York. Four of them died from tuberculosis within a year of arriving in New York, with the exception of one young boy, Minik Wallace. Boas staged a funeral for the father of the boy, and instead of resting the remains in peace, Boas had the remains dissected and placed in the museum.
Later Minik Wallace realized that his father's bones were kept at the museum and requested their return. Boas then no longer worked at the museum, but the museum did not want to return the bones. Minik eventually was able to return to Greenland, but Boas did not help him or pay any attention to the plight of the Inuit whom he had brought to New York.
Boas has been widely critiqued for his role in bringing Minik and the five other Inuit to New York, and his disinterest in them once they had served their purpose at the museum. Boas was appointed a lecturer in physical anthropology at Columbia University in , and promoted to professor of anthropology in However, the various anthropologists teaching at Columbia had been assigned to different departments. When Boas left the Museum of Natural History, he negotiated with Columbia University to consolidate the various professors into one department, of which Boas would take charge.
Boas's program at Columbia became the first Ph. Boas originally wanted the AAA to be limited to professional anthropologists, but W. McGee another geologist who had joined the BAE under Powell's leadership argued that the organization should have an open membership. McGee's position prevailed and he was elected the organization's first president in ; Boas was elected a vice-president, along with Putnam, Powell, and Holmes.
At both Columbia and the AAA, Boas encouraged the "four-field" concept of anthropology; he personally contributed to physical anthropology , linguistics , archaeology , as well as cultural anthropology. His work in these fields was pioneering: The four-field approach understood not merely as bringing together different kinds of anthropologists into one department, but as reconceiving anthropology through the integration of different objects of anthropological research into one overarching object, was one of Boas's fundamental contributions to the discipline, and came to characterize American anthropology against that of England , France , or Germany.
This approach defines as its object the human species as a totality. This focus did not lead Boas to seek to reduce all forms of humanity and human activity to some lowest common denominator; rather, he understood the essence of the human species to be the tremendous variation in human form and activity an approach that parallels Charles Darwin's approach to species in general. In his essay, "Anthropology", Boas identified two basic questions for anthropologists: We do not discuss the anatomical, physiological, and mental characteristics of a man considered as an individual; but we are interested in the diversity of these traits in groups of men found in different geographical areas and in different social classes.
It is our task to inquire into the causes that have brought about the observed differentiation and to investigate the sequence of events that have led to the establishment of the multifarious forms of human life. In other words, we are interested in the anatomical and mental characteristics of men living under the same biological, geographical, and social environment, and as determined by their past. These questions signal a marked break from then-current ideas about human diversity, which assumed that some people have a history, evident in a historical or written record, while other people, lacking writing, also lack history.
For some, this distinction between two different kinds of societies explained the difference between history, sociology, economics and other disciplines that focus on people with writing, and anthropology, which was supposed to focus on people without writing. Boas rejected this distinction between kinds of societies, and this division of labor in the academy. He understood all societies to have a history, and all societies to be proper objects of the anthropological society.
In order to approach literate and non-literate societies the same way, he emphasized the importance of studying human history through the analysis of other things besides written texts. Thus, in his article, "The History of Anthropology", Boas wrote that. The historical development of the work of anthropologists seems to single out clearly a domain of knowledge that heretofore has not been treated by any other science.
It is the biological history of mankind in all its varieties; linguistics applied to people without written languages; the ethnology of people without historical records; and prehistoric archeology.
Historians and social theorists in the 18th and 19th centuries had speculated as to the causes of this differentiation, but Boas dismissed these theories, especially the dominant theories of social evolution and cultural evolution as speculative. He endeavored to establish a discipline that would base its claims on a rigorous empirical study.
One of Boas's most important books, The Mind of Primitive Man , integrated his theories concerning the history and development of cultures and established a program that would dominate American anthropology for the next fifteen years. In this study, he established that in any given population, biology, language, material, and symbolic culture, are autonomous; that each is an equally important dimension of human nature, but that no one of these dimensions is reducible to another.
In other words, he established that culture does not depend on any independent variables. He emphasized that the biological, linguistic, and cultural traits of any group of people are the product of historical developments involving both cultural and non-cultural forces.
He established that cultural plurality is a fundamental feature of humankind and that the specific cultural environment structures much individual behavior. Boas also presented himself as a role model for the citizen-scientist, who understand that even were the truth pursued as its own end, all knowledge has moral consequences. The Mind of Primitive Man ends with an appeal to humanism:.
Boas's work in physical anthropology brought together his interest in Darwinian evolution with his interest in migration as a cause of change.
His most important research in this field was his study of changes in the body from among children of immigrants in New York. Other researchers had already noted differences in height, cranial measurements, and other physical features between Americans and people from different parts of Europe.
Many used these differences to argue that there is an innate biological difference between races. Boas's primary interest—in symbolic and material culture and in language—was the study of processes of change; he, therefore, set out to determine whether bodily forms are also subject to processes of change.
Boas studied 17, people, divided into seven ethno-national groups. Boas found that average measures of the cranial size of immigrants were significantly different from members of these groups who were born in the United States. Moreover, he discovered that average measures of the cranial size of children born within ten years of their mothers' arrival were significantly different from those of children born more than ten years after their mothers' arrival.
Boas did not deny that physical features such as height or cranial size were inherited; he did, however, argue that the environment has an influence on these features, which is expressed through change over time. This work was central to his influential argument that differences between races were not immutable. These findings were radical at the time and continue to be debated.
Jantz claimed that differences between children born to the same parents in Europe and America were very small and insignificant and that there was no detectable effect of exposure to the American environment on the cranial index in children.
They argued that their results contradicted Boas's original findings and demonstrated that they may no longer be used to support arguments of plasticity in cranial morphology. Russell Bernard, and William R.
Leonard reanalyzed Boas's data and concluded that most of Boas's original findings were correct. Moreover, they applied new statistical, computer-assisted methods to Boas's data and discovered more evidence for cranial plasticity. They argue that Sparks and Jantz misrepresented Boas's claims and that Sparks's and Jantz's data actually support Boas. For example, they point out that Sparks and Jantz look at changes in cranial size in relation to how long an individual has been in the United States in order to test the influence of the environment.
Boas, however, looked at changes in cranial size in relation to how long the mother had been in the United States. They argue that Boas's method is more useful because the prenatal environment is a crucial developmental factor. A further publication by Jantz based on Gravlee et al. He commented, "Using the recent reanalysis by Gravlee et al. It shows that long-headed parents produce long headed offspring and vice versa. To make the argument that children of immigrants converge onto an "American type" required Boas to use the two groups that changed the most.
Although some sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists have suggested that Boas was opposed to Darwinian evolution, Boas, in fact, was a committed proponent of Darwinian evolutionary thought.
In , he declared that "the development of ethnology is largely due to the general recognition of the principle of biological evolution"; since Boas's times, physical anthropologists have established that the human capacity for culture is a product of human evolution.
In fact, Boas's research on changes in body form played an important role in the rise of Darwinian theory. Prior to that time biologists relied on the measurement of physical traits as empirical data for any theory of evolution. Boas's biometric studies, however, led him to question the use of this method and kind of data.
In a speech to anthropologists in Berlin in , Boas argued that at best such statistics could only raise biological questions, and not answer them. It was in this context that anthropologists began turning to genetics as a basis for any understanding of biological variation. Boas also contributed greatly to the foundation of linguistics as a science in the United States.
He published many descriptive studies of Native American languages, and wrote on theoretical difficulties in classifying languages, and laid out a research program for studying the relations between language and culture which his students such as Edward Sapir , Paul Rivet , and Alfred Kroeber followed. His article "On Alternating Sounds", however, made a singular contribution to the methodology of both linguistics and cultural anthropology.
It is a response to a paper presented in by Daniel Garrison Brinton , at the time a professor of American linguistics and archeology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Brinton observed that in the spoken languages of many Native Americans, certain sounds regularly alternated. This is clearly not a function of individual accents; Brinton was not suggesting that some individuals pronounced certain words differently from others. He was arguing that there were many words that, even when repeated by the same speaker, varied considerably in their vocalization. Using evolutionary theory , Brinton argued that this pervasive inconsistency was a sign of linguistic inferiority, and evidence that Native Americans were at a low stage in their evolution.
Boas was familiar with what Brinton was talking about; he had experienced something similar during his research in Baffin Island and in the Pacific Northwest. Nevertheless, he argued that "alternating sounds" is not at all a feature of Native American languages—indeed, he argued, they do not really exist. Rather than take alternating sounds as objective proof of different stages in cultural evolution, Boas considered them in terms of his longstanding interest in the subjective perception of objective physical phenomena.
He also considered his earlier critique of evolutionary museum displays. There, he pointed out that two things artifacts of material culture that appear to be similar may, in fact, be quite different. In this article, he raises the possibility that two things sounds that appear to be different may, in fact, be the same.
In short, he shifted attention to the perception of different sounds. Boas begins by raising an empirical question: He immediately establishes that he is not concerned with cases involving perceptual deficit—the aural equivalent of color-blindness. He points out that the question of people who describe one sound in different ways is comparable to that of people who describe different sounds in one way. This is crucial for research in descriptive linguistics: People may pronounce a word in a variety of ways and still recognize that they are using the same word.
The issue, then, is not "that such sensations are not recognized in their individuality" in other words, people recognize differences in pronunciations ; rather, it is that sounds "are classified according to their similarity" in other words, that people classify a variety of perceived sounds into one category.
A comparable visual example would involve words for colors. The English word "green" can be used to refer to a variety of shades, hues, and tints. But there are some languages that have no word for " green ". This is not an example of color-blindness—people can perceive differences in color, but they categorize similar colors in a different way than English speakers.
Boas applied these principles to his studies of Inuit languages. Researchers have reported a variety of spellings for a given word. In the past, researchers have interpreted this data in a number of ways—it could indicate local variations in the pronunciation of a word, or it could indicate different dialects. Boas argues an alternative explanation: It is not that English speakers are physically incapable of perceiving the sound in question; rather, the phonetic system of English cannot accommodate the perceived sound.
Although Boas was making a very specific contribution to the methods of descriptive linguistics, his ultimate point is far reaching: In other words, the perceptual categories of Western researchers may systematically cause a Westerner to misperceive or to fail to perceive entirely a meaningful element in another culture.
As in his critique of Otis Mason's museum displays, Boas demonstrated that what appeared to be evidence of cultural evolution was really the consequence of unscientific methods and a reflection of Westerners' beliefs about their own cultural superiority. This point provides the methodological foundation for Boas's cultural relativism: The essence of Boas's approach to ethnography is found in his early essay on "The Study of Geography".
There he argued for an approach that. When Boas's student Ruth Benedict gave her presidential address to the American Anthropological Association in , she reminded anthropologists of the importance of this idiographic stance by quoting literary critic A.
This orientation led Boas to promote a cultural anthropology characterized by a strong commitment to. Boas argued that in order to understand "what is"—in cultural anthropology, the specific cultural traits behaviors, beliefs, and symbols —one had to examine them in their local context. He also understood that as people migrate from one place to another, and as the cultural context changes over time, the elements of a culture, and their meanings, will change, which led him to emphasize the importance of local histories for an analysis of cultures.
Thus, Boas's student Robert Lowie once described culture as a thing of "shreds and patches". Boas and his students understood that as people try to make sense of their world they seek to integrate its disparate elements, with the result that different cultures could be characterized as having different configurations or patterns.
But Boasians also understood that such integration was always in tensions with diffusion, and any appearance of a stable configuration is contingent see Bashkow During Boas's lifetime, as today, many Westerners saw a fundamental difference between modern societies, which are characterized by dynamism and individualism, and traditional societies which are stable and homogeneous.
Boas's empirical field research, however, led him to argue against this comparison. For example, his essay, "Decorative Designs of Alaskan Needlecases: Museum", provides another example of how Boas made broad theoretical claims based on a detailed analysis of empirical data. After establishing formal similarities among the needlecases, Boas shows how certain formal features provide a vocabulary out of which individual artisans could create variations in design.
Thus, his emphasis on culture as a context for meaningful action made him sensitive to individual variation within a society William Henry Holmes suggested a similar point in an paper, "Origin and development of form and ornament in ceramic art", although unlike Boas he did not develop the ethnographic and theoretical implications. In a programmatic essay in , "The Methods of Ethnology", Boas argued that instead of "the systematic enumeration of standardized beliefs and customs of a tribe", anthropology needs to document "the way in which the individual reacts to his whole social environment, and to the difference of opinion and of mode of action that occur in primitive society and which are the causes of far-reaching changes".
Boas argued that attention to individual agency reveals that "the activities of the individual are determined to a great extent by his social environment, but in turn, his own activities influence the society in which he lives and may bring about modifications in a form".
Consequently, Boas thought of culture as fundamentally dynamic: All cultural forms rather appear in a constant state of flux Having argued against the relevance of the distinction between literate and non-literate societies as a way of defining anthropology's object of study, Boas argued that non-literate and literate societies should be analyzed in the same way. Nineteenth-century historians had been applying the techniques of philology to reconstruct the histories of, and relationships between, literate societies.
In order to apply these methods to non-literate societies, Boas argued that the task of fieldworkers is to produce and collect texts in non-literate societies.
This took the form not only of compiling lexicons and grammars of the local language, but of recording myths, folktales, beliefs about social relationships and institutions, and even recipes for local cuisine.
In order to do this, Boas relied heavily on the collaboration of literate native ethnographers among the Kwakiutl, most often George Hunt , and he urged his students to consider such people valuable partners, inferior in their standing in Western society, but superior in their understanding of their own culture.
Using these methods, Boas published another article in , in which he revisited his earlier research on Kwakiutl kinship. In the late s, Boas had tried to reconstruct transformation in the organization of Kwakiutl clans, by comparing them to the organization of clans in other societies neighboring the Kwakiutl to the north and south.
Now, however, he argued against translating the Kwakiutl principle of kin groups into an English word. Instead of trying to fit the Kwakiutl into some larger model, he tried to understand their beliefs and practices in their own terms. For example, whereas he had earlier translated the Kwakiutl word numaym as "clan", he now argued that the word is best understood as referring to a bundle of privileges, for which there is no English word.
Men secured claims to these privileges through their parents or wives, and there were a variety of ways these privileges could be acquired, used, and transmitted from one generation to the next. As in his work on alternating sounds, Boas had come to realize that different ethnological interpretations of Kwakiutl kinship were the result of the limitations of Western categories.
As in his work on Alaskan needlecases, he now saw variation among Kwakiutl practices as the result of the play between social norms and individual creativity. Before his death in , he appointed Helen Codere to edit and publish his manuscripts about the culture of the Kwakiutl people. Franz Boas was an immensely influential figure throughout the development of folklore as a discipline. At first glance, it might seem that his only concern was for the discipline of anthropology—after all, he fought for most of his life to keep folklore as a part of anthropology.
Yet Boas was motivated by his desire to see both anthropology and folklore become more professional and well-respected. Boas was afraid that if folklore was allowed to become its own discipline the standards for folklore scholarship would be lowered.
This, combined with the scholarships of "amateurs", would lead folklore to be completely discredited, Boas believed. In order to further professionalize folklore, Boas introduced the strict scientific methods which he learned in college to the discipline. Boas championed the use of exhaustive research, fieldwork, and strict scientific guidelines in folklore scholarship. Boas believed that a true theory could only be formed from thorough research and that even once you had a theory it should be treated as a "work in progress" unless it could be proved beyond doubt.
This rigid scientific methodology was eventually accepted as one of the major tenets of folklore scholarship, and Boas's methods remain in use even today. Boas also nurtured many budding folklorists during his time as a professor, and some of his students are counted among the most notable minds in folklore scholarship.
Boas was passionate about the collection of folklore and believed that the similarity of folktales amongst different folk groups was due to dissemination. Boas strove to prove this theory, and his efforts produced a method for breaking a folktale into parts and then analyzing these parts. His creation of "catch-words" allowed for categorization of these parts, and the ability to analyze them in relation to other similar tales.
Boas also fought to prove that not all cultures progressed along the same path, and that non-European cultures, in particular, were not primitive, but different. Boas remained active in the development and scholarship of folklore throughout his life. He became the editor of the Journal of American Folklore in , regularly wrote and published articles on folklore often in the Journal of American Folklore , and helped to elect Louise Pound as president of the American Folklore Society in Boas was known for passionately defending what he believed to be right.
Many social scientists in other disciplines often agonize over the legitimacy of their work as "science" and consequently emphasize the importance of detachment, objectivity, abstraction, and quantifiability in their work. Perhaps because Boas, like other early anthropologists, was originally trained in the natural sciences, he and his students never expressed such anxiety.
Moreover, he did not believe that detachment, objectivity, and quantifiability was required to make anthropology scientific. Since the object of study of anthropologists is different from the object of study of physicists, he assumed that anthropologists would have to employ different methods and different criteria for evaluating their research.
Thus, Boas used statistical studies to demonstrate the extent to which variation in data is context-dependent, and argued that the context-dependent nature of human variation rendered many abstractions and generalizations that had been passing as scientific understandings of humankind especially theories of social evolution popular at the time in fact unscientific.
His understanding of ethnographic fieldwork began with the fact that the objects of ethnographic study e. More importantly, he viewed the Inuit as his teachers, thus reversing the typical hierarchical relationship between scientist and object of study.
This emphasis on the relationship between anthropologists and those they study—the point that, while astronomers and stars; chemists and elements; botanists and plants are fundamentally different, anthropologists and those they study are equally human—implied that anthropologists themselves could be objects of anthropological study.
Although Boas did not pursue this reversal systematically, his article on alternating sounds illustrates his awareness that scientists should not be confident about their objectivity, because they too see the world through the prism of their culture. This emphasis also led Boas to conclude that anthropologists have an obligation to speak out on social issues.
Boas was especially concerned with racial inequality , which his research had indicated is not biological in origin, but rather social. Boas is credited as the first scientist to publish the idea that all people—including white and African-Americans—are equal.
An early example of this concern is evident in his commencement address to Atlanta University , at the invitation of W. Boas began by remarking that "If you did accept the view that the present weakness of the American Negro, his uncontrollable emotions, his lack of energy, are racially inherent, your work would still be noble one".
He then went on, however, to argue against this view. To the claim that European and Asian civilizations are, at the time, more advanced than African societies, Boas objected that against the total history of humankind, the past two thousand years is but a brief span.
Moreover, although the technological advances of our early ancestors such as taming fire and inventing stone tools might seem insignificant when compared to the invention of the steam engine or control over electricity, we should consider that they might actually be even greater accomplishments. Boas then went on to catalogue advances in Africa, such as smelting iron, cultivating millet, and domesticating chickens and cattle, that occurred in Africa well before they spread to Europe and Asia evidence now suggests that chickens were first domesticated in Asia; the original domestication of cattle is under debate.
He then described the activities of African kings, diplomats, merchants, and artists as evidence of cultural achievement. From this, he concluded, any social inferiority of Negroes in the United States cannot be explained by their African origins:.
Boas proceeds to discuss the arguments for the inferiority of the "Negro race", and calls attention to the fact that they were brought to the Americas through force. For Boas, this is just one example of the many times conquest or colonialism has brought different peoples into an unequal relation, and he mentions "the conquest of England by the Normans, the Teutonic invasion of Italy, [and] the Manchu conquest of China" as resulting in similar conditions.
The WHO estimates that Environmental risk factors, such as air, water and soil pollution, chemical exposures, climate change, and ultraviolet radiation, contribute to more than diseases and injuries. This can result in a number of pollution-related diseases. WHO works to "reduce morbidity and mortality and improve health during key stages of life, including pregnancy, childbirth, the neonatal period , childhood and adolescence, and improve sexual and reproductive health and promote active and healthy aging for all individuals".
It also tries to prevent or reduce risk factors for "health conditions associated with use of tobacco, alcohol, drugs and other psychoactive substances, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity and unsafe sex ". The WHO works to improve nutrition, food safety and food security and to ensure this has a positive effect on public health and sustainable development.
The WHO promotes road safety as a means to reduce traffic-related injuries. The WHO has also worked on global initiatives in surgery, including emergency and essential surgical care,  trauma care,  and safe surgery. The World Health Organization's primary objective in natural and man-made emergencies is to coordinate with member states and other stakeholders to "reduce avoidable loss of life and the burden of disease and disability.
On 5 May , WHO announced that the spread of polio was a world health emergency — outbreaks of the disease in Asia , Africa , and the Middle East were considered "extraordinary". On 8 August , WHO declared that the spread of Ebola was a public health emergency; an outbreak which was believed to have started in Guinea had spread to other nearby countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone. The situation in West Africa was considered very serious.
WHO addresses government health policy with two aims: The organization develops and promotes the use of evidence-based tools, norms and standards to support member states to inform health policy options. It oversees the implementation of the International Health Regulations , and publishes a series of medical classifications ; of these, three are over-reaching "reference classifications": In terms of health services, WHO looks to improve "governance, financing, staffing and management" and the availability and quality of evidence and research to guide policy.
It also strives to "ensure improved access, quality and use of medical products and technologies". Partners work together to put international principles for aid effectiveness and development co-operation into practice in the health sector. Each year, the organization marks World Health Day and other observances focusing on a specific health promotion topic. Recent themes have been vector-borne diseases , healthy ageing and drug resistance The World Health Organization works to provide the needed health and well-being evidence through a variety of data collection platforms, including the World Health Survey covering almost , respondents from 70 countries,  and the Study on Global Aging and Adult Health SAGE covering over 50, persons over 50 years old in 23 countries.
The WHO has published various tools for measuring and monitoring the capacity of national health systems  and health workforces. The database was launched on Human Rights Day , and is part of WHO's QualityRights initiative, which aims to end human rights violations against people with mental health conditions.
The new database presents a great deal of information about mental health, substance abuse, disability, human rights, and the different policies, strategies, laws, and service standards being implemented in different countries.
The database allows visitors to access the health information of WHO member states and other partners. Users can review policies, laws, and strategies and search for the best practices and success stories in the field of mental health.
The WHO regularly publishes a World Health Report , its leading publication, including an expert assessment of a specific global health topic. As of [update] , the WHO has member states: As of [update] , it also had two associate members, Puerto Rico and Tokelau.
Palestine is an observer as a "national liberation movement" recognized by the League of Arab States under United Nations Resolution The Holy See also attends as an observer, as does the Order of Malta. Based in Geneva, it typically meets yearly in May.
It appoints the Director-General every five years and votes on matters of policy and finance of WHO, including the proposed budget. It also reviews reports of the Executive Board and decides whether there are areas of work requiring further examination.
The Assembly elects 34 members, technically qualified in the field of health, to the Executive Board for three-year terms. The main functions of the Board are to carry out the decisions and policies of the Assembly, to advise it and to facilitate its work. The current chairman of the executive board is Dr. The regional divisions of WHO were created between and , and are based on article 44 of the WHO's constitution, which allowed the WHO to "establish a [single] regional organization to meet the special needs of [each defined] area".
Many decisions are made at regional level, including important discussions over WHO's budget, and in deciding the members of the next assembly, which are designated by the regions. Each region has a Regional Committee, which generally meets once a year, normally in the autumn. Representatives attend from each member or associative member in each region, including those states that are not fully recognized.
For example, Palestine attends meetings of the Eastern Mediterranean Regional office. Each region also has a regional office. The Board must approve such appointments, although as of , it had never over-ruled the preference of a regional committee. The exact role of the board in the process has been a subject of debate, but the practical effect has always been small.
Aside from electing the Regional Director, the Regional Committee is also in charge of setting the guidelines for the implementation, within the region, of the health and other policies adopted by the World Health Assembly.
The current Director-General is Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus , who was appointed on 1 July The WHO employs 8, people in countries. The WHO operates " Goodwill Ambassadors "; members of the arts, sports, or other fields of public life aimed at drawing attention to WHO's initiatives and projects. The World Health Organization operates country offices in all its regions.
As of [update] , the only WHO Representative outside Europe to be a national of that country was for the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya "Libya" ; all other staff were international. The country office consists of the WR, and several health and other experts, both foreign and local, as well as the necessary support staff. The WHO is financed by contributions from member states and outside donors.
This represented a significant fall in outlay compared to the previous — budget, adjusting to take account of previous underspends. Assessed contributions were kept the same. In recent years, the WHO's work has involved increasing collaboration with external bodies. There were partnerships with international NGOs in formal "official relations" — the rest being considered informal in character.
A selective reading of this document clause 3 can result in the understanding that the IAEA is able to prevent the WHO from conducting research or work on some areas, as seen hereafter.
However, the following paragraph adds that. The nature of this statement has led some pressure groups and activists including Women in Europe for a Common Future to claim that the WHO is restricted in its ability to investigate the effects on human health of radiation caused by the use of nuclear power and the continuing effects of nuclear disasters in Chernobyl and Fukushima.
They believe WHO must regain what they see as "independence". In particular, and in accordance with the Constitution of the World Health Organization and the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and its agreement with the United Nations together with the exchange of letters related thereto, and taking into account the respective co-ordinating responsibilities of both organizations, it is recognized by the World Health Organization that the International Atomic Energy Agency has the primary responsibility for encouraging, assisting and co- ordinating research and development and practical application of atomic energy for peaceful uses throughout the world without prejudice to the right of the World Health Organization to concern itself with promoting, developing, assisting and co-ordinating international health work, including research, in all its aspects.
Clearly suggesting that the WHO is free to do as it sees fit on nuclear, radiation and other matters which relate to health. In , the WHO denounced the Roman Curia 's health department's opposition to the use of condoms , saying: It also stood by its recommendation based upon its own analysis of scientific studies.
In , the WHO organized work on pandemic influenza vaccine development through clinical trials in collaboration with many experts and health officials. By the post-pandemic period critics claimed the WHO had exaggerated the danger, spreading "fear and confusion" rather than "immediate information". This response was only possible because of the extensive preparations undertaken during the last decade".
Following the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the organization was heavily criticized for its bureaucracy, insufficient financing, regional structure, and staffing profile. An internal WHO report on the Ebola response pointed to underfunding and the lack of "core capacity" in health systems in developing countries as the primary weaknesses of the existing system.
The program was aimed at rebuilding WHO capacity for direct action, which critics said had been lost due to budget cuts in the previous decade that had left the organization in an advisory role dependent on member states for on-the-ground activities.
In comparison, billions of dollars have been spent by developed countries on the — Ebola epidemic and —16 Zika epidemic. The World Health Organization sub-department, the International Agency for Research on Cancer IARC , has been criticized for the way it analyses the tendency of certain substances and activities to cause cancer and for having a politically motivated bias when it selects studies for its analysis. Ed Yong, a British science journalist, has criticized the agency and its "confusing" category system for misleading the public.
He claimed that this classification did not take into account the extent of exposure: Controversies have erupted multiple times when the IARC has classified many things as Class 2a probable carcinogens , including cell phone signals, glyphosate , drinking hot beverages, and working as a barber. The appointment address praised Mugabe for his commitment to public health in Zimbabwe. The appointment attracted widespread condemnation and criticism in WHO member states and international organizations due to Robert Mugabe's poor record on human rights and presiding over a decline in Zimbabwe's public health.
The seat of the organization is in Geneva , Switzerland. It was designed by Swiss architect Jean Tschumi and inaugurated in From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see WHO disambiguation. Brazzaville , Republic of Congo. Eastern Mediterranean ; HQ: South East Asia; HQ: New Delhi , India.
International Agency for Research on Cancer. On a stamp of the German Democratic Republic. Internal courtyard , Reflecting pool , WHO Headquarters from Southwest. WHO Headquarters from South. WHO Headquarters from East. WHO Headquarters from North. WHO Headquarters from West. WHO Headquarters main entrance. WHO Headquarters entrance hall. WHO Headquarters main conference room. The British Medical Journal. Chronicle of the World Health Organization. Archived from the original PDF on 9 August Retrieved 18 July Retrieved 27 March Retrieved 31 March Smallpox and Its Eradication.
History of International Public Health. Archived from the original on