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Types Distinct from Our Own: Franz Boas on Jewish Identity and Assimiliation

Leonard B. Glick
American Anthropologist
New Series, Vol. 84, No. 3 (Sep., 1982), pp. 545-565
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/677332
Page Count: 21
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Types Distinct from Our Own: Franz Boas on Jewish Identity and Assimiliation
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Abstract

Boas's published writings on assimilation were deeply influenced by his German Jewish background. In particular, his unwillingness to recognize Jewish cultural identity as a reality was central to his persistent emphasis on human plasticity and his insistence that people not be "classified" in groups. In support of this argument, 19th-century German and German Jewish history is reviewed, focusing on the relation between Kultur ideology and anti-Semitism. It is suggested that this approach to Boas's statements offers fresh perspective on some of the apparent confusion in his ideas about culture and assimilation.

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