• Cambridge Scholars Publishing

    "Controversies in Medicine and Neuroscience: Through the Prism of History, Neurobiology, and Bioethics (2023) is well worth reading and studying. It should be standard on all doctor’s bookshelves and among the interested laymen."

    - Russell L. Blaylock, President of Theoretical Neuroscience Research

The Political Activism of Anthropologist Franz Boas, Citizen Scientist

This book chronicles the life and political action of Franz Boas, a ground-breaking anthropologist whose work denied the notion of racial superiority and introduced the notion of cultural relativity. In addition, he was a fierce pacifist who opposed the entry of the United States into World War I, and organized a powerful organization protecting the free speech of those accused of left-wing sympathies. He was among the first to recognize the strength of a scientist speaking out on political issues. The book will appeal to those interested in issues of race relations and free speech, and those interested in the role of science and scientists in the larger society.


Alan H. McGowan, selected as 2019’s Top Science and Technical Expert by the International Association of Top Professionals, also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Marquis Who’s Who. Now a lecturer at The New School (New York, USA), he served first as Chair of the Science, Technology, and Society Program, then as Chair of the Environmental Studies Program, where he developed several new initiatives, including a newsletter which was disseminated to four hundred leaders in global environmental studies. He previously ran the Scientists’ Institute for Public Information (New York, USA), a major bridge between the scientific and media communities. He is a Yale graduate in mechanical engineering.

"Alan McGowan’s new biography is the first to emphasize the political dimension of Boas’s work: his emergence as a public intellectual who spoke out as a champion of liberal ideals. McGowan’s scrupulous and sympathetic account of Boas's life and his role in shaping our modern conception of humankind adds a compelling new dimension to our understanding of how our world came to be."

Jonathan Gould Author of Can’t Buy Me Love and Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life

"This book is a revelation. McGowan has masterfully revived the life of a remarkable pioneer in anthropology and humanistic studies who overcame great odds to become a courageous explorer, leading activist, legendary professor and groundbreaking researcher. Boas influenced prominent figures such as Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict and Zora Neale Hurston, among others; and his ideas of how we perceive ourselves and society still resonate today with a vital immediacy and fresh urgency – “Citizen Boas” indeed!"
Adam Van Doren
Artist and author of In the Founders’ Footsteps, The Stones of Yale, and An Artist in Venice

"Boas' life and thought are important for people grappling with issues of environmental justice, racial justice, indigenous sovereignty, or gender and justice, and McGowan has written a thoughtful and enjoyable book about Boas that is important reading."

Steven Kolmes, PhD Editor-in-Chief of Environment magazine

"Spanning seal skins and potlatches, Black and white, Germany and America, Margaret Mead and Zora Neale Hurston, and the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition to World War II, Alan McGowan’s gripping biography of Franz Boas is also a history of anthropology and the struggle of Western science to understand and serve the public interest."

Jesse Ausubel Director of the Program for the Human Environment, Rockefeller University, USA

"The book is rich with details about swaths of public policy and belief where Boas had strong feelings, always welcoming diversity of belief so long as it was accompanied by respect for difference and appreciation of the effect that culture could have on individual viewpoints. Readers who know little about the role that comparative ethnography has played in defending a multi-racial, multi-cultural society will come away from McGowan’s book with a deep appreciation for Papa Franz and his disciples. Perhaps the most important lesson found in this book is that scientists cannot avoid being entangled in controversial matters of public policy. Not only are they scientists, they are citizens. McGowan has shown us the power of an engaged Citizen Scientist."

Grant P. Thompson Former Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of the United States

Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-5275-6685-4

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-6685-9

Release Date: 23rd January 2024

Pages: 267

Price: £64.99

-
+