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The Functions of the History of Science: Melville J. Herskovits on Franz Boas

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Abstract:

This paper looks at the legitimating functions of the history of social science in the social science curriculum. There have been two kinds of legitimating functions for the history of science, one "external," directed at the wider public in order to justify scientific endeavors and, on the other hand, to critique science in the eyes of the public, to make a claim that science is not aloof from everyday activities and thus to be held accountable. The other function has been "internal," directed at the disciplinary community, and here disciplinary histories have served to provide weapons for intra-disciplinary ascendency for their authors by legitimating certain theoretical paradigms and de-legitimating others. This paper uses as a case study the work in the history of anthropology by the US anthropologist Melville J. Herskovits (1895-1963), a founder of African and Afro-American studies in the discipline. Herskovits was a student of Franz Boas (1858-1942), seen as the "father" of American anthropology, and Herskovits’s 1953 book on Boas is considered in the light of the functions of disciplinary histories.
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Association:
Name: 95th Annual Convention
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http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435396_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Yelvington, Kevin. "The Functions of the History of Science: Melville J. Herskovits on Franz Boas" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435396_index.html>

APA Citation:

Yelvington, K. A. "The Functions of the History of Science: Melville J. Herskovits on Franz Boas" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435396_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: This paper looks at the legitimating functions of the history of social science in the social science curriculum. There have been two kinds of legitimating functions for the history of science, one "external," directed at the wider public in order to justify scientific endeavors and, on the other hand, to critique science in the eyes of the public, to make a claim that science is not aloof from everyday activities and thus to be held accountable. The other function has been "internal," directed at the disciplinary community, and here disciplinary histories have served to provide weapons for intra-disciplinary ascendency for their authors by legitimating certain theoretical paradigms and de-legitimating others. This paper uses as a case study the work in the history of anthropology by the US anthropologist Melville J. Herskovits (1895-1963), a founder of African and Afro-American studies in the discipline. Herskovits was a student of Franz Boas (1858-1942), seen as the "father" of American anthropology, and Herskovits’s 1953 book on Boas is considered in the light of the functions of disciplinary histories.


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Disciplinary Networks and Bounding: Scientific Communication between Science Studies and History of Science


 
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