Diasporic Identities

The Science and Politics of Race in the
Work of Franz Boas and
W. E. B. Du Bois, 1894-1919
Julia E. Liss
Department of History
Scripps College

In February 1995, researchers at the American Association for the Advancement
of Science (AAAS) meetings announced, according to a report in the Los
Angeles Times, that "the concept of race . .. has no basis in fundamental human
biology" (Hotz 1995b:Al). At a moment when debates about multiculturalism,
affirmative action, and racial and ethnic differences and identities occupy much
time and space in public discourse in the United States, scientists question the
very categories these arguments presuppose. "The scientific case against race
has been building quietly among population geneticists and anthropologists for
more than a decade," a follow-up article declared (Hotz 1995a: Al). For a good
100 years, however, scientists and scholars—anthropologists and activists
among them—have waged their own battle against the scientific underpinnings
of racial thought, in much the same terms as today's challenge. Academic
proclamations notwithstanding, it is clear that the social and political meanings
of "race" have not lost their currency.
The connection of past debates with present-day controversies has not gone
without notice. Franz Boas has made cameo appearances in recent discussions
about race and culture, nature and nurture (Degler 1991:61-83; Ehrenreich and
Mclntosh 1997:12; Freeman 1983:19-33; Tucker 1994:91, 138, 149, 155,
158-159, 165), and has been the subject of increasing interest in his own right
(Hyatt 1990; Liss 1995, 1996; Stocking 1996; Williams 1996). For his part,
W. E. B. Du Bois has garnered a stunning amount of attention (Bell et al. 1996;
Du Bois 1986a; Early 1993; Gooding-Williams 1994; Harrison 1992; Harrison
and Nonini 1992; Lewis 1993, 1995; Massiah 1995; Rath 1997; Reed 1997;
Sundquist 1993,1996; Zamir 1995). In one of the recent turns in the cycle of culture wars, Dinesh D'Souza links Boas, his students, and Du Bois with the rise of
cultural relativism, the civil rights movement, multiculturalism, and affirmative
action, which have, he contests, convinced Americans that racism, rather than
Cultural Anthropology 13(2): 127-166. Copyrighl © 1998, American Anlhropological Association.


antiracism, is the main obstacle to equality (D'Souza 1995:xii-xxv, 144-161,
190,194,344-345,184-190,196-199). Boas and Du Bois have become, as Micaela di Leonardo's clever title states, the "synecdoche for all that ails us" (di
Leonardo 1996). In light of these references, Boas's and Du Bois's engagement
in the culture wars of their own time reminds us of the history of these positions
on racialism and makes it worth reconsidering their arguments about the meanings of race, culture, and national identity. I will argue that the apparent lacuna
in their legacy points to the difficulties of resolving social questions with scientific evidence, in general, and of undermining assumptions about race, in particular. These ongoing struggles to undermine assumptions about race suggest
the importance of asking why their arguments have not taken hold more effectively or consistently and why we are poised, at our own fin de siecle, to look
back to them specifically as lightning rods in our debates over race, relativism,
and culture (see Figures 1 and 2).
Both Boas and Du Bois placed a critique of "race" at the center of their scientific and political agendas, and both drew on a particular sensitivity to problems of identity formation. At the heart of their attacks on contemporary racialism, Boas and Du Bois criticized provincial and essentialist forms of identity
and proposed modernist perspectives on both race and politics as solutions to the
burdens of modernity. By this I want to suggest that they situated the contingency of modernist consciousness—particularly the multiple, often fragmented,
and shifting sense of identity—in the historical formation of modernity with its
increasingly interconnected, global society, particularly the economies of capital and nationalism and the mass migrations of peoples.1 By relating modernist
consciousness to modernity in this way, they challenged both narrow (provincial) and fixed and reductive (essentialist) forms of identity.
However, they ultimately took different positions on the efficacy of scientific arguments against racial ideologies. Whereas Du Bois responded to the
First World War by relinquishing his faith in science as the basis for social
change and pursuing Pan-Africanism more resolutely, Boas responded to the
war by redoubling his efforts to make science an instrument against racism and
nationalism. Their different trajectories illustrate, in turn, a substantial difference in how they conceptualized politics and issues of power more broadly.
Boas based his political vision—his arguments for social change and racial justice—on his view of scientific authority and legitimacy. This foundation, combined with the argument to disclaim the inherence of "race," required instead a
more complete recognition of racism and race as political problems (Omi and
Winant 1994:65). Du Bois, on the other hand, engaged arguments about the
problems of racial meanings precisely to address the political issues. This contrast speaks to the often unacknowledged contribution of Du Bois and to how the
neglect of African American anthropologists has impoverished our consideration of race and culture (Baker 1994:200; Harrison 1992; Harrison and Nonini
1992:233-234; Lange 1983).
Roughly of the same generation—Boas lived from 1858 to 1942, Du Bois
from 1868 to 1963—they shared problematic efforts to define an alienated self



Figure 1
W. E. B. Du Bois in bis office at Atlanta University, 1909, shortly before he moved
to New York to edit The Crisis. Photo courtesy of the Special Collections and
Archives, W. E. B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

formed through experiences of marginality and diaspora. A German-born Jew
who immigrated to the United States in the 1880s, Boas's forging of academic
anthropology in part reflected his own sense of perpetual marginality and experiences of rootlessness, especially by normalizing the perspective of the participant-observer as the central method of disciplinary practice, if not of his own
fieldwork. This is not to discount other influences or motivations—the German
intellectual traditions of his youth or career ambitions, for instance. Rather, the
combination of these particular inheritances and dislocations helped Boas build
anthropology as a discipline with certain key concerns that drew upon the experiences and perspectives of marginality (Liss 1995, 1996).
Similarly, Du Bois's vacillation between alienation and his attraction to nationalist identity was stimulated by his experiences of American racism, his
studies in Germany, his extended sojourns in Europe and Africa, and his developing views on the historical relations of race and diasporic identity (Appiah
1992; Du Bois 1986e:587-588; Gilroy 1993:117, Holt 1990). Emblematic of
this unresolved struggle was his shift from conceiving of (him)self as a 'problem," as he said in 1903 in The Souls of Black Folk (1986c: 363), to writing his
personal history, Dusk of Dawn, in 1940 as An Essay Toward an Autobiography
of a Race Concept (1986e).2 Du Bois and Boas both contextualized theories
about race in personal experiences of marginality and exclusion that led to a


Figure 2
Franz Boas in his study at his home in Grantwood, New Jersey, 1915. Photo
courtesy of the American Philosophical Society.

certain distancing of self. Boas, however, succeeded in institutionalizing his
ideas at Columbia University, whereas the stigma of race meant that Du Bois's
academic career remained circumscribed. Simultaneously, the virulence of
American racial violence at the turn of the century turned Du Bois's attention
away from the power of ideas toward political challenges to racial injustice. One
result of Du Bois s trajectory is that we have often known less than we need to
about his critique of "race ' and less than we should about how his work related
to that of Franz Boas.
To explore the problematic relationship between science and politics in
both Boas s and Du Bois' s antiracialism, I will look at four moments in their careers1 early studies (Boas's 1894 'Human Faculty as Determined by Race"
[1974b] and Du Bois's 1897 "Conservation of Races" [1986b]); transitional
works (Du Bois's 1903 The Souls of Black Folk [1986c] and Boas's 1906
Atlanta commencement address, "The Outlook for the American Negro"

Semitic. we must bow to the genius of all. Their work also reveals how the very meaning of "race" was a live issue around the turn of the century. and. Boas cautioned his audience. Du Bois and Boas help define both a community of intellectual work against racism and the different formulations of the politics of race and modernism. subject to a great deal of debate and evidence of both confusion and flexibility in usage not entirely lost on us today (Stocking 1994)." he said. But these factors. "It follows. although intercommunication was slow. were not the crucial ones. but his concepts of race and racial difference were not necessarily equated with hierarchies of superiority." particularly the contact of peoples and diffusion of ideas which made racial identity more contingent and human variation greater (1974b:223-227). and he was still inclined to admit the importance of anatomical differences and the possibility of racial inequality. [1974b:223] Boas still held to the importance of "genius"—although it applied to "all.D1ASPORIC IDENTITIES: BOAS A N D DU BOIS 131 [1974c]). These moments demonstrate the extent to which their careers intersected. In light of current debates on identity politics and nationalism. to which they both contributed. how they contributed to an emerging antiracialist discourse. and the crisis of the First World War. therefore. the formulation of modernist antiracialism in the 1911 Universal Races Congress. Boas still spoke in terms of "civilization. As all have worked together in the development of the ancient civilizations. "that achievements of races do not warrant us to assume that one race is more highly gifted than the other" (1974b:227). Aryan or Mongol.3 The first argument concerned." had created civilizations (1974b:223-227). Arguing against the tendency to confuse "the achievement and the aptitude for an achievement" (1974b:222). Boas claimed that history. in his view. rather than innate "faculty. as the title of his talk implied." rather than cultures. and they were not primarily essentialist ones: "The variations inside any single race are such that they overlap the variations in another race so that a number of characteristics may be common to individuals of both races" . the question of achievement and race. At this point. When he spoke of ancient civilizations. and the extent to which their ideas ultimately diverged. the second stressed racial difference and the history of human contact." of "whatever race"—and to the significance of racial difference. The Formulation of Antiessentialist Race Theory In an address to the AAAS in August 1894—an uncanny century before the most recent critiques of the scientific basis of "race"—Boas proposed a twofold argument on "Human Faculty as Determined by Race" (1974b). Ideas and inventions were carried from one to the other. he emphasized the process of "historical events. whatever race they may represent: Hamitic. we must bear in mind that none of these civilizations was the product of the genius of a single people. Proofs without number have been forthcoming which show that ideas have been disseminated as long as people have come in contact with each other and that neither race nor language nor distance limits their diffusion. Instead. each people which participated in the ancient civilization added to the culture of the others.

The "real meaning of Race" must account for such distinctions because they were fundamental to human difference and experience (1986b: 815).4 Therefore. which were actually less significant than similarities. however. This slippage. he added "deeper differences"—perhaps indicated by his capitalization of "Race"—which were "spiritual. psychical differences—undoubtedly based on the physical. but these variations suggested that "we may expect many individuals of all races to be equally gifted . generally of common blood and language. Du Bois did not end his argument here but pushed the conflicting view of race and racial identity further still. who are both voluntarily and involuntarily striving together for the accomplishment of certain more or less vividly conceived ideals of life" (1986b:817). Du Bois stressed the commonality of "a vast family of human beings. . searching not just for the meaning of "race" but also for the "real distinction between these nations" (1986b:817-819). . 817-820). using evidence of human variation to interrogate the science of racial difference. Advocating what might be called "anti-anti-racism" against the tendency to obliterate differences. Moreover. If. but infinitely transcending them. Du Bois found little consistency allowing one to "classify mankind. as for Boas. that likenesses between racial groups were even more prominent than the differences such classifications were supposed to delineate. always of common history." At the same time. There might be differences and inequalities of races. for Du Bois. the emphasis on similarities and likenesses did not necessarily mean the absence of meaningful variations. Du Bois acknowledged the importance of racial differences and divisions (1986b:815)." To conventional. however. "The overlapping of variations is significant in so far as it shows that the existing differences are not fundamental" (1974b:227). he continued. racialized terminology. Like Boas. he could not define what "race" might mean. "The Conservation of Races" (1986b). as Lucius Outlaw has argued. Unlike Boas. traditions and impulses. did not explain individual variation or individual capabilities. " (1974b:242). "Unfortunately for scientists. In his 1897 address to the American Negro Academy. Du Bois picked up where Boas left off. Out of a variety of physical characteristics which seemed to point to racial distinctions. The central points here. Historical differences could not be reduced to physical characteristics. In other words. he concluded. moreover. Instead of emphasizing physical characteristics. while he was undercutting the normative and largely biological significance of "race. these criteria of race are most exasperatingly intermingled" (1986b:816). at once retaining mystical notions of "blood" and introducing more modern ideas of nationhood. Du Bois immediately altered his terms. not naturally given. even an understanding of social groups as historically constructed. Du Bois used the term race "as a cluster concept which draws together under a single word references to biological. however. took him beyond Boas's discussion of the place of history in race formation." As he continued. .132 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY (1974b:227). including those based on "blood" and "genius" (1986b:815. cultural. Du Bois continued to employ categories of racial types. were that statistically valid classifications were not consistent with categorization into racial groups and.

to the tendency to "absorption by the white Americans" in response to racism. Further than that. now well-known but then . to the need for a new sense of responsibility among "the advance guard of the Negro people". Du Bois asked in 1897. am I not perpetuating the very cleft that threatens and separates Black and White America? Is not my only possible practical aim the subduction of all that is Negro in me to the American? Does my black blood place upon me any more obligation to assert my nationality than German. or Irish or Italian blood would? [1986b:821] Although he was persistently ambivalent about the process of identity (Posnock 1995). [1986b:822] Du Bois was moving toward a more fully articulated argument of the effects of "such incessant self-questioning" and the place of race identity in modern society. our religion. see also 28).6 Just as he ended "The Conservation of Races" with a series of questions. the questions were intrinsically personal. What. we are Negroes. to joining "the van of Pan-Negroism" (1986b:820-822). For Du Bois. Du Bois's answers to these questions were less equivocal than this soul-searching might suggest: no. ideas that he developed in 1903 in The Souls of Black Folk (1986c). yes. Du Bois saw the limits imposed by race: We are Americans. yes. after all. Not only was Du Bois concerned with the dilemmas of identity and the pressures to claim singular allegiance. At that point. Questions on the Meanings of Race and Modernity Among the many great achievements of The Souls of Black Folk is the innovative way Du Bois explored both the alienating effects of prejudice and the affirming possibilities of alternative forms of self-definition. Du Bois began The Souls of Black Folk with another. but by our political ideals.48-50). Anticipating the idea of double-consciousness that he would articulate a few years later. emphasis in original.DIASPORIC IDENTITIES: BOAS AND DU BOIS 133 and geographical factors thought characteristic of a population" (1996:20. Du Bois's usage marked the transition between 19th. While affirming what he called simply "American" identity. Both are rooted in a modernist sense of the contingencies of identity in a fragmented and global world. but half awakening in the dark forests of its African fatherland. then collective and often conflicting meanings of the word also had a particular historical significance. members of a vast historic race that from the very dawn of creation has slept. nationalist ones. but he also challenged whether the mark of color—what divided black from white America—made him more obligated to choose and announce his nationality than were Americans of European descent. our Americanism does not go.5 That Boasian and Du Boisian arguments about geographical and cultural diffusion played such a central role in the reconfiguration of meanings of race is precisely the point (Gooding-Williams 1996:45. am I? Am I an American or am I a Negro? Can I be both? Or is it my duty to cease to be a Negro as soon as possible and be an American? If I strive as a Negro. not only by birth and by citizenship. our language.and 20th-century biological conceptions of race and ones that deemphasized biological essentialism precisely to heighten cultural. therefore.

The answers Du Bois proposed involved searching the nature and sources of debilitating selfconsciousness. however. "American" identity. two warring ideals in one dark body. two unreconciled strivings. on the other. self-realization. the Teuton and Mongolian.—this longing to attain self-conscious manhood. this double-consciousness. At the same time. Du Bois appeared to emphasize the re-creation of a whole self. born with a veil. but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world.. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American. a Negro. the Greek and Roman. The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife. without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face. Like Boas.—an American. Du Bois traveled south to find himself and to locate black culture in the United States. . In answer to his earlier question—"What am I?"—he now proclaimed more directly the need to unify "American" and Negro identities. also 440]) and the prospect of the "ideal of human brotherhood. The question . One ever feels his two-ness. the Negro is a sort of seventh son. whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. [1986c:364-365] Drawing on Hegelian notions of world-historical development." an outsider. 369). in the Jim Crow car" [1986c:414.7 Du Bois's words about the alienated self reiterate the intertwined problems of racial taxonomies.8 but these identifications only labeled him as a "Negro. 539) produced both the psychological predicament of alienation and the possibilities for renewal and revolt. Du Bois's veil metaphor separates worlds of racial and economic difference while creating an alienated self. and marginality. two thoughts." meaning the human race. These two issues were connected because the historical circumstances gave rise to the institutions of exploitation and racism that confounded him and because the experience of what he called "the restlessness of the savage. this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others. and analyzing the history of race contact. the wail of the wanderer" and the "voice of exile" (1986c:542.—a world which yields him no true self-consciousness. self-respect. returning to the other biological essentialism of "Race. creating in turn a crisis of self-understanding: After the Egyptian and Indian. on the one hand. two souls. made from "dawning self-consciousness. without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows.. Du Bois drew on customary racial groupings.. It is a peculiar sensation. to merge his double self into a better and truer self. of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. But he found instead the constraint of prejudice (the bottom line that he too "rode . ." for the purpose of escaping from the "disparagement" that results from incessant "self-questioning" (1986c: 368. This alienation derives not just from segregation but also from the prejudice that presupposes and supports it—that prevents the subject from having an integrated identity. he also recognized the "gift" of "second sight" this alienation affords. He also joined the dilemma of personal identity with objectives of an intellectual project on the meanings of race and race relations.134 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY "unasked" one: "How does it feel to be a problem?" (1986c:363). gained through the unifying ideal of Race" (1986c: 370). and gifted with second-sight in this American world. Much like the anthropologist whose participant-observation affords a peculiar perspective on others.

Du Bois found the basis for historical self-consciousness and social responsibility. therefore.10 To his analysis of the possibilities of the alienated self. To extend the process of globalization in different directions and to respond to what he had earlier called "the problem of the Twentieth Century . the characteristic of our age is the contact of European civilization with the world's undeveloped peoples. and even reward in the promise of future work. expression. Whatever we may say of the results of such contact in the past.. timely (see Figure 3). Du Bois employed social evolutionary notions in his reference to "undeveloped peoples. the problem of the color-line" (1986c:359). make an intellectual project that would address both the question of modern life and personal identity. . To bring this hope to fruition. now criticized more explicitly the very assumptions of superiority that contrasted the civilized with the uncivilized. extermination. murder. not the mystical history of Hegelian triumphal ism but a materialist sense of economic and social developments that figured in the creation of global systems of exploitation and contact. Indeed. so that the alienating effects of race found relief. 12 Both men were at crucial junctures in their thinking .—this has again and again been the result of carrying civilization and the blessed gospel to the isles of the sea and the heathen without the law. [1986c:475-476] Only defining the history of "race-contact" as the object of intellectual study would. the individual burdens of this divided self found a broader meaning in the "history of the American Negro. that we may be able to serve for future civilization all that is really fine and noble and strong. slavery.9 Extending his earlier thoughts on the importance of race difference. Du Bois joined an argument on history. Interestingly.D1ASPOR1C IDENTITIES: BOAS AND DU BO1S 135 "What am I?" found the answer in an assertion of "two-ness". . and the true. War. we are compelled daily to turn more and more to a conscientious study of the phenomena of race-contact. Du Bois called on all honorable men of the twentieth century to see that in the future competition of races the survival of the fittest shall mean the triumph of the good. and not falsified and colored by our wishes or our fears." a history that Du Bois himself helped to write. as he suggested earlier.." Du Bois pointedly used the arguments on diffusion and destabilizing of racial categories that both he and Boas had been developing to challenge the violence of conquest and to expose cultural contact as the problem of modernity. [1986c:475] Du Bois. At the beginning of the chapter in The Souls of Black Folk entitled "Of the Sons of Master and Man..—a study frank and fair. Du Bois criticized the reigning ideology of "civilized" imperialism: The world-old phenomenon of the contact of diverse races of men is to have new exemplification during the new century." but his references to the "survival of the fittest" implicitly undercut contemporary racial hierarchies by calling for "truer" standards of civilization. and debauchery. whose terminology had earlier combined biological and cultural meanings of race." for instance. Du Bois's invitation to Boas to visit Atlanta University in 1906 was. the beautiful. it certainly forms a chapter in human action not pleasant to look back upon.

In 1904. as well as by the Atlanta race riots that also occurred in 1906 (Du Bois 1986e:615-618). University of Massachusetts. Amherst. Yolande. is seated in the front. Photo courtesy of the Special Collections and Archives. At the same time. his wife. he had complained that If the Negroes were still lost in the forests of central Africa we could have a government commission to go and measure their heads. Du Bois is standing at rear. 1906. E. We can go to the South Sea Islands half way around the world and beat and shoot a weak people longing for freedom into the slavery of American prejudice at the cost of hundreds of millions. W. Du Bois Library. an organization of African American intellectuals and public leaders that championed civil and political rights. stands in the second to last row a little left of center. he was frustrated by the lack of interest in the Atlanta Conferences and in his sociological studies of African Americans in the United States. B. Sharing an antiracist agenda. Boas and Du Bois were struggling to institutionalize their arguments by furthering research to counter scientific racism and by participating in public discussions to promote their ideas. Their daughter. about race.136 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY Figure 3 Atlanta University Staff and Faculty. and yet at Atlanta University we beg annually and . second from right. the year that Boas delivered his commencement address. but with 10 millions of them here under your noses I have in the past besought the Universities almost in vain to spend a single cent in a rational study of their characteristics and conditions. Du Bois was mobilizing the Niagara Movement. Nina Comer Du Bois. third from the right.

Boas addressed the particular concerns of his audience: "You have the full right to view your labor in an entirely different light" than the usual emphasis on charity and uplift. To counter claims of moral. All of this I had never heard and I came then and afterwards to realize how the silence and neglect of science can let truth utterly disappear or even be unconsciously distorted. 14 Boas's remarks at Atlanta University. Du Bois remembered his own rather sudden awakening from the paralysis of this judgment [that the "Negro has no history"] taught me in high school and in two of the world's great universities. It is striking. and the importance of both for his African American audience. that he moved easily among these issues of contemporary and historical importance. played an important role in these contributions because they made an enormous impression on Du Bois." particularly "our capacity as well as our duty. or mental inferiority. on the other hand. Boas drew clearly the connections between his challenge to racial essentialism. " (1974c:310-311). psychological. In words that struck Du Bois for the silence they broke on the African American past.D1ASPORIC IDENTITIES: BOAS AND DU BOIS 137 beg in vain for the paltry sum of $500 simply to aid us in replacing gross and vindictive ignorance of race conditions with enlightening knowledge and systematic observation. although sporadic. that continued until Boas died in 1942." He then turned to the demands of "modern life. [Du Bois 1939:vii]15 In his remarks. military and political organization. "You may confidently look to the home of your ancestors and say. Many years later. and then he recounted the history of the black kingdoms south of the Sahara for a thousand years." which involved both a knowledge of the history of "cultures different from ours" and the demands placed on members of "communities where diverse elements live side by side . Boas said. The 1906 meeting in Atlanta therefore signaled the degree to which their work converged and prompted an association. the history of cultural contact. "Material inferiority. that you have set out to recover for the colored people the strength that was their own before they set foot on the shores of this continent" (1974c:313). Boas then embarked on a discussion of the history of the contribution of African peoples to the "development of human culture. [1904:86]" For Boas. Boas began by providing what he called an anthropological view of race and its relation to "our own everyday problems. delivered as the commencement address for 1906. . but he was stymied in his efforts to institutionalize the study of American race relations to include African Americans and European immigrants (Stocking 1992:101). After establishing this context of modernity. this period solidified his older work on physical anthropology with newer questions of social policy. Franz Boas came to Atlanta University where I was teaching history in 1906 and said to a graduating class: You need not be ashamed of your African past. . for instance. he began (1974c: 311)." Boas also . economic and judicial systems. I was too astonished to speak. even as they substantiated concerns that Du Bois was already developing. and the arts (1974c:311-313)." enumerating advances in iron smelting. agriculture.

though the voice be tremulous.. The self-proclaimed object of the gathering was to discuss.16 These comments. the Races Congress would be inclusive: "Only the man himself can speak for himself. between . variation. [1974c:313-314] Armed with "impartial scientific" evidence on contact and conquest that brought peoples of different cultures and physical types together. see also 191 ld:200). excited and even incoherent. like Du Bois. and the writer Israel Zangwill. It also signified a turning point. it must be listened to if the world would learn and know" (1910:17. paved the way for a reconceptualization of the meaning of race as situated in the dynamics of diasporic modernity. in the light of science and the modern conscience. 1986e:743-744). presenting by the early decades of the 20th century some of the most forceful statements on race. That there may be slightly different hereditary traits seems plausible. science. moreover. and politics. by emphasizing contact.. the leader of the Ethical Culture Society of New York. not simply the physical meeting. but it is entirely arbitrary to assume that those of the Negro.. was not supported by the evidence of history..138 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY claimed. The voice of the oppressed alone can tell the real meaning of oppression and..17 Looking forward to the Universal Races Congress scheduled for the summer of 1911. he carefully separated arguments on inequality from those on differences: The physical inferiority of the Negro race. solidifying Boas's influence on public antiracist arguments and on Du Bois's own changing views on the meanings of race. is insignificant when compared to the wide range of individual variability in each race. Here. The Universal Races Congress and Modernist Antiracism Boas's visit to Atlanta signified the degree to which his work and Du Bois's converged. were co-Secretaries representing the United States—they also played central roles in an emerging discourse on race that itself transcended national boundaries. if it exists at all. social inequality. 208. because perhaps slightly different.. but the resultant spiritual contact which will run round the world" (1910:17. if it had not been followed so quickly by the World War" (1986e:722). the general relations subsisting between the peoples of the West and those of the East. author of The Melting Pot (1909). Boas encouraged his audience to "take up your work among your race with undaunted courage" (1974c:314). Unlike other meetings with high-minded purposes. and superiority. Du Bois thought that it "would have marked an epoch in the cultural history of the world. When in 1911 Boas and Du Bois contributed to the Universal Races Congress in London—Du Bois and Felix Adler. and difference instead of racial purity.18 Because the conference focused on "inter-racial problems" and included papers by such renowned scholars as the German anthropologist Felix von Luschan. eye to eye and hand to hand of those actually present. Du Bois wrote that "the chief outcome of the Congress will be human contact—the meeting of men. the sociologist Ferdinand Tonnies. see also 1911d:207. must be of an inferior type.

Du Bois stressed the historical meeting and mixing of peoples in the African diaspora as well as the severity of the "Negro problem" in the United States." Du Bois's unusually long paper was published in its entirety in smaller type to accommodate its "great length" (Spiller 1911:348. undercutting views of human physical anthropology and heredity as permanent and hierarchical measures of type and the social policies and practices that they supported (191 lb:99). physique. Du Bois stressed the persistence of "discrimination. 103). Boas's by challenging assumptions of physical anthropology and the orthodoxy of race. Describing what he had earlier called life "within the veil" (1986c:359). social condition. The "problem" had shifted from the internalized one of self-perception and selfhatred to the larger societal one of racial justice and survival. both Boas's and Du Bois's papers addressed the Congress's mandate to reexamine and reform contemporary race relations. the most friendly feelings. or be utterly crushed by prejudice and superior numbers. and Du Bois's...20 Du Bois's essay.D1ASHOR1C IDENTITIES: BOAS AND DU BOIS 139 so-called white and so-called coloured peoples. Boas's paper continued the line of reasoning he had developed earlier in "Human Faculty as Determined by Race" (1974b). Du Bois's paper "The Negro Race in the United States of America" (191 lb) traced the history and condition of African Americans.S. note I). the question of race relations. material he expanded upon in Changes in Bodily Forms of Descendants of Immigrants for the U. Boas went further to state that "the old idea of absolute stability of human types must. Suggesting the possibility that "concomitant changes of the mind may be expected" in new conditions as well. and a heartier co-operation. Immigration Commission (1911a). he challenged views on racial superiority by stressing the "plasticity" of bodily characteristics under the pressure of environment. and with it the belief of the hereditary superiority of certain types over others" (191 lb: 102. [Spiller 191 l:v] In keeping with this questioning of criteria of color. More particularly. suggested a new basis for coexistence—were as ignored at the time as they were revolutionary. and religious and cultural worlds of the "so-called 'Negro' population of the United States" (191 lb:349). growth. evidently be given up. with a view to encouraging between them a fuller understanding. The implications of these findings—an antideterminist view of difference that. This time.. Although these . more empirically detailed and more explicit in its immediate social and political pointedness. based primarily on race" and concluded with the high stakes at hand: "Whether at last the Negro will gain full recognition as a man. Because of its "special value.19 In the broadest sense.. is the present Negro problem of America" (1911b: 362-364). combined with Boas's own assimilationist leanings. by reconstructing a history of African Americans. the papers demonstrated the state of Boas's and Du Bois's current thinking on the meaning of race. Boas wrote a paper entitled "The Instability of Human Types" (1911b). and how scientific knowledge might illuminate them both. "The assumption of an absolute stability of human types is not plausible. documented the history. however. perhaps acting on the epiphany caused by Boas's Atlanta remarks." Boas proclaimed. Anticipating his 1915 publication The Negro (1970).

21 For Du Bois... In his disillusionment following the conflict. individual consciousness. Subsequently. this involved greater attention to the problem of racism and to the formulation of what has become known as the concept of culture. Du Bois shifted his faith from science to politics. at the same time. if it did not derive from.140 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY sociological concerns were not new. Similarly. they used their shared disillusionment with the war effort to formulate social analyses that took account of the impediments to progress and social change. Boas connected his earlier arguments about race to the pressing issues of the war. Although he saw the conflict as a realization of the irrational impulses of cultural loyalties. Slav. his very focus was a slippery one: "the so-called 'Negro' population. In "Race and Nationality" (1915b). for instance. It also marked a significant departure in Du Bois's own thinking about the relative meanings of race. an unavoidable war of races. In other words.. In the wake of challenges to the meaning of race. this involved a recourse to nationalism and Pan-Africanism against a failed American promise of equality and opportunity. Initially. however. In typical fashion. Boas swiftly met the challenge of wartime rhetoric. This shift—a differentiation of color from culture. an outcome of the innate hostility between Teutonic. For Boas. he still thought that emboldened scientific reason would explain and thereby resolve these dangerous and misguided ideas. Against the view that "the struggle that is now devastating Europe . for Boas. Boas argued that there was no "scientific proof' (1915b: 4) of the identity of local types with races . and Latin peoples" rooted in a permanent" 'racial instinct' " (1915b:3). Boas applied anthropological arguments and perspectives to the problem of war. by which he meant the distribution of economic and social power and a reconfiguration of cultural identity through Pan-Africanism. Du Bois saw the war as an opportunity to address the changes he had envisioned for society in the United States. and history. . . separating physical from mental characteristics and innate capacity from civilization (Appiah 1985:30. to doubt the usefulness of "Negro" identity in favor of Pan-Africanism. culture. and power were put to the test during World War I." The uncertainty was not so much one of identity—the older equivocation of consciousness—but one of the social and historical realities and opportunities that defined American life. . . Du Bois now had begun to question the efficacy of science as a means to social action and. 1992:34)—paralleled closely. social problems primarily devolved from ignorance and emotion. [was] . for Du Bois social problems arose primarily from exploitation. nation. These publications are important precisely because they gave Boas a more popular venue to articulate his ideas. however. Boas's arguments concerning the meanings of race. although they used these understandings at first to take opposite positions on the conflict itself. an article published by the American Association for International Conciliation which had appeared in shortened form in Everybody's Magazine in 1914. In other words. both men saw the problem of war as a mirror of their social agendas. The First World War and the Conflict of Races and Nations Both Du Bois's and Boas's notions of race.

According to Boas. Boas had sketched out a history of human societies which explained conflict and provided an optimistic prediction of greater harmony. and the survival of the Iroquois and the Zulu. To fill the intellectual vacuum left by the absence of racial explanations. "Scientific investigation does not countenance the assumption that in any one part of Europe a people of pure descent or of a pure racial type is found. Boas argued that one must turn beyond the fiction of race to understand the community of emotional life that made up a nation and that could explain the extent of passions the conflict aroused. human societies had developed from "the most primitive form of society. These broadscale. Boas continued his life work against "race" and racialism.10). Boas presented a scenario that he would draw on consistently during the war years (1919c. Boas deployed alternative ideas on nationalism and group solidarity—what would be more explicitly formulated as the culture concept but which were now sharpened under the exigencies of war—and on the relationship of nationality to internationalism and other kinds of interconnections. evidenced partly in the appeals of linguistic solidarity and most powerfully in the passions aroused by nationalism. Greater contact and diversification over time had provided for greater cooperation and greater "unification" (1912:5-6. which has really very. emphasis in original). and that the passions that have been let loose are those of national enmities. 1945d). while the claim to scientific solutions was both more problematic and more urgent.22 In this view. Indeed. In An Anthropologist's View of War (1912). until his death. such as the Bushmen of South Africa. 8). the persistence of particularities and their appeals demanded greater attention. "It is clear that the term race is only a disguise of the idea of nationality. Before the war. evolutionary changes were the same ones that Boas had also argued provided the historical conditions undermining a fixed accounting of racial types. his discussion was entirely consistent with all that he had said before. these antipathies were largely emotional. There were still survivals of these earlier tendencies. 1945c. To this point in his argument. 1945b. very little to do with racial descent. Boas cited the demise of present-day primitive peoples. connecting scientific and historical considerations with present-day dilemmas.D1ASFURIC IDENTITIES: BOAS AND DU BOIS 141 and languages. but he now also addressed the problems of racism and of cultures. and careful inquiry has failed completely to reveal any inferiority of mixed European types" (1915b:5—6). In proposing alternative explanations for nationalism. such as the persistence of racism (1912. This shift itself marked a refinement of Boas's thinking about the problem of "race" from a more inchoate argument about the intersection of race. but the overall direction toward "more advanced types of society" continued. only now it found immediate and pointed application. not of racial antipathies" (1915b: 8. and society to a more specific charge against racial typing as a form of prejudice. as part of efforts to further world peace. to ever-larger units of social organization." in which "hordes" regarded every stranger as an enemy to be fought in self-defense. culture. In the context of the war. who had succeeded in enlarging their social spheres . As evidence of this.

In addition. Thus we are led to the important conclusion that neither the belief is justified that the modern nations represent the largest attainable social units. they were also the primary burden against which humans. Boas went to great lengths to elucidate the wide variations in human experience that characterized the ways in which people had organized their lives. and what he also emphasized as the particulars that distinguished peoples from one another and often drove them apart. [1912:13-14] In the context of war. but it also had significant limits and reflected his argumentative strategy as much as it did his theoretical outlook. Earlier. From the vantage point of 1912.142 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY (1912:7. This meant that the modern age was deeply connected with its primitive roots and not exemplary of the high point of civilization: "The modern enthusiasm for the superiority of the so-called 'Aryan race." due to differences of dialects and social classes (1912:12-13). despite the universalizing of his narrative. Boas's social evolutionism is striking here. the future promised greater peace and cooperation between peoples. Boas outlined the history of linguistic distributions and the reasonings behind their appeals. with movement from irrational conflict to reasoned cooperation and with exceptions marked as survivals of the past. that the ideals of the present groups—and with them the groups—will be permanent. By the end of the conflict. The example of linguistic solidarity illustrated Boas's argument about the importance of emotional bases while it also demonstrated his insistence on the variations of historical contexts that resisted absolutist reasoning. Boas applied the same logic that he had used earlier to describe the distribution of racial types—that historical diffusion had led to differentiation and variation.' of the 'Teutonic Race. Boas thought that unlike "race"—an unstable set of distinctions—language did often form the basis for the solidarity of the group and. not . because of this. Thus the study of all types of people. see also 1915b:9). that brought them together and connected them. On the other hand. shows two peculiar traits: the one the constant increase in size of the social units that believe in the same ideal. primitive as well as advanced.23 In this argument. the other the constant variation of these ideals. Boas related a story of progress from primitive to civilized. moreover. Boas was pressed to strike a new balance between what he saw as the universals that humans shared. who in general were unenlightened. 8). found "a ready response in our hearts" (1915a:8. always struggled." although this was "more an ideal than a real bond.' the Pan-German and Pan-Slavish ideals" was merely "the old feeling of specific differences between social groups in a new disguise" (1912:10). On the one hand. nor the other. a fullpage article in the Sunday New York Times. Boas also stressed a nonlinear path of development: survivals were not only exceptions. Boas had stated that commonality of language might encourage close emotional ties and feelings of "comradeship" and "solidarity. the "modern primitive tribes" seemed to include as many Americans and Europeans as they did subject peoples (1919c:232). In "Kinship of Language a Vital Factor in War" (1915a).

25 Such relativizing was important because of both the intransigence of particularities and the limits of our own perspectives: As I grant that the patriot who cannot free himself from the prejudices of exalting his own environment may be morally as righteous as the cosmopolitan. 236). the form of linguistic nationalism in Germany. the particularity of nationality had to be acknowledged for reasons of practicality as well as value. a different relationship between national aspirations and linguistic identities was formulated.24 Third." he wrote. Whereas "nationality" represented a historical manifestation of the formation of the group. For historical reasons. to the effort to bring all Slavs under Russian control— despite the Slavs' linguistic and religious heterogeneity—to the French preoccupation with Alsace-Lorraine.D1ASKJR1C IDENTITIES: BOAS AND DU BOIS 143 consolidation and uniformity—but he now also addressed the persistence of contrary claims. rather. in all cases the assertions were based on strong emotions that explained why "the same events are interpreted so differently" in each country (1915a: 8). he emphasized variation." separating the issue of distinctive difference from the desire to build a political state. differences enabled us "to recognize the traditional basis of our own thought by comparison with foreign types of thought" (1945b:182). and England ranged from the dispersal of German speakers and the desire to preserve the language without political unification. "Notwithstanding the wide spread of this ideal. notably the "deep emotional value" of the desire to bring together linguistic affinity and "political aspirations. differences were important because they "make for that variety in cultural life that is the necessary condition for a life worth living" (1945e:143). therefore. one that appeared in different ways in different times and places but with equally powerful appeals in each." the right and necessity of difference had to be recognized (1919a: 185). . to the English aspirations to control the seas and build a world empire. "nationalism" was a particularly modern form of segregation of class interests and represented the exploitation of these sympathies for political ends (1919d:232. utterly impossible. "Nationality and state do not need to coincide" (1919d:233). but that we must try to understand it from the point of view of their national life and the exigencies of their situation. When Boas considered the appeals to linguistic unity. "the particular form in which it manifests itself is by no means uniform" (1915a: 8). . In each case." The title of the article therefore over-simplified the relationships. Russia. because "the permeation of nationalities" made "territorial separation . These differences were crucial to Boas's larger argument about the relativity of national affinities and the possibilities for overcoming them. history had created a range of variations in the distribution of languages that did not conform to political boundaries or to the form that political aspirations took. Boas was careful to distinguish "nationality" from "nationalism. Second. for instance. France. First. [1945c:159] . so I grant to each nation that in a conflict of opinions we have no right to interpret their mode of thought that differs from our own. as due to moral depravity. Although language provided the basis for shared values undergirding appeals to national unity. not unidirectional development. reasons that Boas specified in three variations.

due to greater education. see also 1986:197).233.S. in other words. emotional nationalism—Boas advocated what he saw as the interests of all of mankind: "It is my opinion that our first duties are to humanity as a whole. As a scientist who was part of no political group (1915c). that a people that is politically strong must also be a strong nationality. Warning against the kind of "intolerant nationalism" that "taught n o t . . that patriotism must be subordinated to humanism" (1945c: 156). war rationales (1916a). "as athinking American" who criticized U. his recognition of the distinctiveness of "cultural achievements" (1919d:235).144 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY Nationality was. and that in a conflict of duties our obligations to humanity are of higher value than those towards the nation. This humanism operated on "fundamental principles" such as justice and freedom which should take precedence over the demands of a particular group or individual (1945a) by basing decisions on neutrality in international law (1916b) and on freedom of thought such as in science (1919d:235. In making these distinctions between "nationality" and "nationalism. in short." Boas separated what he saw as an unavoidable and valuable form of particularity from one that was exploitative and against the common good. a test case for the theoretical orientation of Boasian anthropology. In particular. At the same time. resolved only by a claim to superior reason.26 As he had earlier challenged scientific racism with evidence of historical interconnections and contingency. and his advocacy of science. In contrast to nationalism." Boas worried about the "uniformity of patterns of thought" that discouraged critical thinking about our own way of life and others' (1919d:237). 1945b. In other words. In the process. In place of patriotism—a kind of unreflective. Boas separated power from nationality. art. 1945e:141). Boas linked his criticism of political power and intellectuals as a class. There was a built-in tension in Boas's position. that a people that is politically weak cannot develop a strong national individuality. then. the nationalism of ideas but the imperialistic nationalism of political and economic power. he hoped to separate "ideas" from the realms of "power. The history of civilization proves this belief to be entirely erroneous. which were also based on what people had in common and on recognition of the continuous flux of history. 1945e). Modern nationalism is based on the dogma that political power and national individuality are inseparable. and commerce as models for transnational interactions (1919d:232. [1919c:235] Nationalists used appeals to racial and linguistic solidarity to promote these ends. were more inculcated in official dogma than were the masses and thus less capable of freedom of thought (1918:146-148. . "The background of nationality is social individuality that neither brooks interference from other groups nor possesses the wish to deprive other nationalities of their individuality" (1919d:236)." Particularly culpable were intellectuals who. Boas now countered nationalism with appeals to the greater interests of humanity. and as . relying on false and affecting sentiments to further their own interests.

thereby reasserting his right to speak as well as his dual allegiance. Consistent with this. [1945a: 167] These essentially liberal principles included the right of a nation "to develop in its domain according to its own ideals... and such analysis was legitimated by Boas's explanation for the war itself and by his frustrations with intellectuals' capitulation to the war effort (Stocking 1992:102-106). Whereas earlier he had warned that "Americanism is but one form of nationalism. he hoped for an international allegiance of common interests and efforts that.DIASPORIC IDENTITIES: BOAS AND DU BOIS 145 an anthropologist for whom "the position of the non-conformist" was central (1945b: 179). Boas also altered his view of "Americanism" to account for this outlook while he reaffirmed his own allegiance to science. see also 1916a). based on rational argument and scientific evidence. Boas placed himself on the side of disinterested thought in the interests of human progress and reason. 1945a). but it also resisted the power of his analysis and persuasive argumentation to redirect nationalist antipathies. In this way. which he articulated in an article in The Nation (1919b). For nations. This contradiction helped generate a change in focus in Boasian anthropology and in Boas's self-conception as an "American." with limitation "to its own affairs. Concerned with the possibility that the peace settlement would institute a new form of annexation of . Ironically and most significantly.. the war confirmed Boas's views on the power of nationalist loyalties." he had also held up "American" ideals— especially equal rights and social justice—as fundamental to "progressive Americanism" and its potential contribution to the world." Although all the components for analyzing the particularities of human solidarities had been present earlier. Americanism has no solution to offer. as for individuals. Significantly. demonstrated how at war's end he combined an increasing radicalism with scientific internationalism and a particularist politics. While Boas called himself "an American of German birth" (1919a). in distinction to European traditionalism (1945a: 165). In this larger arena. restraint from any attempts to interfere in the affairs of others [and] resistance against interference by others" (1945a: 167. this multiple identity deferred to and enabled his position as a scientist. Boas defined "Americanism" as a particular form of national identity that also had potentially much wider applications and. would provide for an interdependent world of peace and cooperation. as a set of shared ideals and values. Boas's views on colonialism. Boas's searing criticism of Woodrow Wilson focused on his selective use of international law (1916c) and his imposition of "American" standards as absolute (1916b. because in international affairs Americanism is but one form of nationalism. in cultural terms. the imperative for doing so—for anthropology as a science of culture—became greater after the war. the right to exist had to be balanced against the rights of the international community or of humanity as a whole. especially those built on invented racial identities. in which the principles of justice as developed for the individual are applied to nations. The only solution that can be found must be looked for in a form of international administration.27 Against all odds. transcending all boundaries and particularities.

and he applied his developing ideas on diaspora politics to argue in favor of the war and "Americanism" in ways that greatly differed from Boas's views. cool. autocratic and centralized government. amidst both the persistence of racism at home and the promise of decolonization abroad. " (1914:29.146 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY colonies and that Germany was unfairly singled out for criticism. and added. and "racial" identities and could challenge the "red ray" of racial violence that "calm. "If this is OUR country. In contrast to Boas's responses to the war. who held in abeyance all U. "This is Our Country. . and a studied theory of contempt for everything except Germany . Although he thought all European powers guilty of imperialism.S. Du Bois remembered that "I felt for a moment during the war that I could be without reservation a patriotic American" (1986e:739). Du Bois was fast giving up his faith in science as the basis for social change. even before the United States entered the conflict. see also 1918b. Consistently. could reconcile conflicts of national. Du Bois never wavered in his charge that Germany posed a particular threat to world peace and racial justice: "The triumph of Germany means the triumph of every force calculated to subordinate darker peoples. 1918d:164. are inherent in the system [of colonialism]. "Undoubtedly. Stocking 1992:104). When Du Bois asked. without scientific underpinnings. politics. he answered. including charges against German militarism and imperialism. Boas cited the gains to science from German colonialism—including Germany's ethnographic and natural history museums—and the larger "difficulties t h a t .29 Du Bois's support for the war effort mirrored Boas's dissent. and their government in the interest of the natives and of humanity" (1919b:249." As he concluded.248). . "Where should our sympathy lie?". Du Bois maintained a position consistent with wartime propaganda while mounting additional arguments to subvert the racial status quo. Much later. Du Bois thought the war an opportunity for and a reaffirmation of African American loyalty to the United States." he declared in "A Philosophy in Time of War" (1918d). Such statements of . Unlike Boas. Du Bois reformulated his ideas on race. and are not peculiar to any one nation" (1919b:247. this is OUR war. Du Bois's support for the war indicated his optimism that social movements. even after many years of doubt and rethinking. with the Allies" (1914:28). 1919d:13). then. . . It would mean triumphant militarism. In distinction to Boas's dismay at war rationales. Du Bois stressed the potential for African American citizenship in a war combining racial conflict and imperialist struggle. group. detached" science could not (1986e:602-603). We must fight it with every ounce of blood and treasure" (1918d: 164). arguments for the war. Boas endorsed a proposal to preserve the "economic basis of the life of the natives" in order to prevent the destruction of natural resources and the annihilation of the "natives. however. and internationalism to include support for African nationalism and Pan-Africanism for Negroes in the United States.28 By the end of the conflict. "The only solution lies in the most radical application of the programme of the English Labour Party: international protection of the colonies of all countries against exploitation.

now appears to have been written to earn Du Bois an officer's commission (Ellis 1992. . This involvement in the war effort was important precisely because Du Bois hoped that the war would force a revolution in U. The New Freedom cannot survive if it means Waco. and East St. Memphis. and by the Great Jehovah. it took the disease with it in virulent form and that disease of race-hatred and prejudice hampered its actions and discredited its finest professions" (1986d: 921-922). like John Dewey (1918). From the beginning.S. race relations. In this he was no different from other Progressives. or know the reason why." he wrote. Du Bois also challenged the degree to which the United States fell short of its ideals. Despite the duplicity—amidst an onslaught of criticism. we will save it in the United States of America. he thought that "It is not merely national jealousy. from within. transforming the rhetoric of war by interjecting lyrical phrasing into an editorial: We return. which he expressed in much more damning terms the next month. This strategy.30 Even Du Bois's infamous editorial.. he never admitted his manipulations—Du Bois thought that his appointment would provide leadership and equal opportunities for African Americans. after the armistice. We return from fighting. No land that loves to lynch "niggers" can lead the hosts of Almighty God. made Du Bois's endorsement of the war strategic and allowed him to point.. cause. Du Bois saw the war as a racial conflict of a particularly modern kind. Make way for Democracy! We saved it in France. Like Boas. Consequently. [1919d: 14. not unlike Boas's tactic of showing the faults in the ideology of American exceptionalism. We cannot lynch 2.S..DIASPORIC IDENTITIES: BOAS AND DU BOIS 147 allegiance—so striking in their contrast to Boas's strong support for U. Let us enter this war for Liberty with clean hands. that "A nation with a great disease set out to rescue civilization. who also thought the war would serve their reform agendas. This was particularly important when the United States entered the war officially in 1917. We return fighting. to the contradictions of American life.867 untried black men and women in thirty-one years and pose successfully as leaders of civilization.. [1917a:216-217] The goals of racial justice and the aims of the war were therefore mutually dependent. Du Bois articulated his frustration with continued and increased racism. Along with his championing of the U. where he called on African Americans to set aside their "grievances" and join with white Americans in the war effort. emphasis in original] Du Bois came increasingly to the conclusion. neutrality and the right to dissent—came not just from Du Bois's patriotism but also from his grasp of the war as a special opportunity to achieve national and international social change. Lewis 1993:555-557). "Close Ranks" (1918b). In "Awake America.. Louis..S.

Out of its darker and more remote forest fastnesses. One challenge he faced.148 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY or the so-called 'race' rivalry of Slav. mainstream and put him on the defensive later in explaining his enthusiasm for the Allied cause. not simply of war to-day but of the menace of wars to-morrow. 1917b).S. Du Bois had always seen the war in the context of both domestic and international relations. Always Africa is giving us something new or some metempsychosis of a world-old thing. who saw racism as a survival of a primitive tendency of hatred of the stranger.. Although Du Bois's disillusionment with race relations in the United States precipitated his increased alienation from the U. at once central to the war as a political event and representative of a mythic (internationalism." [I]n a very real sense Africa is a prime cause of this terrible overturning of civilization which we have lived to see. considering the American. On its black bosom arose one of the earliest. therefore. . Teuton. In dismissing the use of fallacious racial particularism in favor of a broader racialism of color. [1915:707] Du Bois's argument here combined Boas's observations at Atlanta about the achievements of Africans with his own use of Africa as a presence of both mythic proportions and historical significance. the first welding of iron.31 Unlike Boas. and Latin. As he wrote in "The African Roots of War. of self-protecting civilizations. Du Bois thought that racism and color conflict were modern predicaments tied to the distinct development of "modern world commerce. and these words seek to show how in the Dark Continent are hidden the roots. and interrelations. consistent with the multivocality of his earlier writings. At the same time. if we may credit many recent scientists. if not the earliest. and we know that agriculture and trade flourished there when Europe was a wilderness. This duality of economic realism mixed with emotional romanticism. was convincing the NAACP and its supporters that it was provincial to think that only domestic race problems mattered (1914:28. A particular characteristic of Du Bois's claim to "Americanism" was this wider perspective.. also underlay Du Bois's view of Africa as at once instrumental in the history of world imperialism and symbolic as a reference point for peoples of color. the modern factory system and the modern labor problem [which] began with the African slave trade" (1917b: 141). modern imperialism. see also 1914:28-29. Du Bois refocused the arguments about the war's origins while reinforcing the rhetoric of its larger purpose.. 709-711. African American. and Pan-African permutations of identity. came. Yet Du Bois drew more broadly on the arguments he had been developing as early as The Souls of Black Folk (1986c) to proclaim that "It is rather the wild quest for Imperial expansion among colored races" by the European powers that explained the war and its worldwide scope (1914:28). loyalty. that is the larger cause of the war" (1914:28). however. he accompanied his analysis of the economic motivations of imperialism that exploited the peoples and resources of "the darker nations of the world" with an appeal to Africa as the "Dark Continent" with "black bosom" (1915:707. African.

but Du Bois indicated that he still believed in "civilization" and thought the war could set more inclusive standards for it. and 1927. his place in the genealogy of these political movements.32 By the end of the war. racialized Pan-Africanism as an alternative to the racist imperialism that he saw underlying the conflict. he argued in universal terms: "Brothers. largely but not exclusively. 1986e:755). more generally. This might seem to be just a charge of hypocrisy. Given the significance of the unstable meanings of race and nation to Du Bois—and Boas—it is important to ask. on the one hand. 1986e:732). Du Bois's shifting emphases here were part of his strategy of criticism of wartime rhetoric—not unlike Boas's use of evolutionism—which undercut the hierarchy of values that supported the war effort while introducing a new relationship to Africa itself. especially in the context of an international. The delineation of nationalism and Pan-Africanism in Du Bois's thought marks the formative influence of the war and. Omi and Winant 1994:37-39). or custom. religion. In contrast to Boas's dismissal of "race" as a factor in the war—by which he meant. a unity that peoples of color were forced into by virtue of discrimination and that also made them exemplary citizens of the world (1919b. 1986d). but of all men" (1916:217." gave Du Bois's wartime arguments about "civilization" multiple meanings. self-determination and exclusion. and. combined with claims to "Americanism. the tension remained between. Du Bois discussed "civilization" as something relative: "Is a civilization naturally backward because it is different?" (1919a: 165). distinctions within Europe—Du Bois always saw "race" as central. Lively 1984:220-228.1923. the war has shown us the cruelty of the civilization of the West. which encouraged nationalism and other forms of particularism. History has taught us the futility of the civilization of the East. just what was nationalistic about Pan-Africanism (see Appiah 1992:40. however. In " 'The Battle of Europe. civilization has met its Waterloo" (1916:216). Du Bois's emphasis on an intellectual vanguard aligned him with the elite form of Pan-Africanism and connected his earlier elitism with his newer ." As one of the principal organizers of the Pan-African Congresses of 1919. the anti-imperialist thrust of Du Boisian Pan-Africanism emphasized the contact and cooperation of diverse peoples of African descent. At times. Du Bois wanted the war settlement to address the questions of the Color Line in an international context. 1986e:755).DIASPORIC IDENTITIES: BOAS AND DU BOIS 149 1919c:7.' " for instance. the irony of the brutality of sophisticated warfare among the "civilized" led Du Bois to proclaim. "Well.17). Most histories connect the two and associate Du Bois with late 19th. he talked about the betrayal of civilization. as when the United States contaminated the fight for civilization with its racial violence at home (1917a. however. This diasporic identity of exclusion and exile. While the political and economic objectives of self-determination may be central to nationalism. Rather. in cooperation with other peoples of color.1921. on the other hand. without claiming any kind of unity in language. In addition. emphasis in original). and without calling for political unity in a nation-state based on such particularities (1921. At the same time.and early 20th-century black nationalism (Geiss 1974:229. Moses 1978:9. Let ours be the civilization of no man.

its folk-customs.150 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY political agendas (Fredrickson 1995:94-136. After the U. soon or late. too. Du Bois focused on the idea of racial unity that underlay a more general idea of African independence. and Egypt with representative institutions." although he never fully explained what the basis for unity on the continent of Africa might be. also.. therefore. Racialist Pan-Africanism was not so much an end in itself but persisted as a way to understand interrelations and power in new ways.S. to the million dark men of Africa and India" (1918a:60) fighting for Great Britain. that among the new nations that are to start forth after this war will be a new Africa and a new beginning of culture for the Negro race" (1917b: 141). Du Bois defended this self-determination—just as Boas did—as a relativistic right to existence and the measure of human freedom. Significantly. [1918a:60] . and not merely for business exploitation.. blacks. The culture indigenous to a country. But even supposing that these [European] masters had been models of kindness and rectitude. Although Du Bois used the keywords state and nations. was his priority.. To those who worried that an independent Africa would "go back" to some precivilized state. It is dedicated. "The Black Soldier. Du Bois tied his nationalist arguments to decolonization in the context of the war because the dismantling of imperialism." Du Bois continued. Out of this war will rise.34 More than on any specific and particularist idea of an African nation-state or of a politics of cultural or linguistic nationality. entered the war in 1917. an Africa for the Africans. you are fighting for the world. an independent China.. such as Boas described.S." for instance. with the right to vote and the right to work and the right to live without insult. who shall say that any civilization is in itself so superior that it must be superimposed upon another nation without the expressed and intelligent consent of the people most concerned. Du Bois made the same argument for reparations on an international scale as he had made for the potential domestic rewards from the war for U. [1919a:165] Unlike Boas. France. Du Bois hoped that blacks would be repaid for their efforts and compensated for the history of colonization and slavery by the creation of "a great free central African state. he also said that "such a state" of reclaimed former colonies "should be under international guarantees and control" (1918c: 114). an American Negro.. rather than the pursuit of nationalism per se. Du Bois reminded them of Africans' achievements and Europeans' sins: Is a civilization naturally backward because it is different?. and you and your people are a part of the world. however. Du Bois admired aspirations in the name of the "nation. a self-governing India. and the other Allies: You are not fighting simply for Europe. appeared in The Crisis the month before "Close Ranks." in an issue that Du Bois dedicated to the "men of Negro descent who are today called to arms for the United States. its art.143-152). Out of this war will rise. "I trust. all this must have free scope or there is no such thing as freedom for the world..

This international unity and racial pride had to arise from necessity—economic need and the unfulfilled promises that U.S. African Americans. the 'niggers' of England and America" (1919b:62. "It is the question of the reapportionment of this vast number of human beings [from former European colonies] which has started the Pan-African movement. With the racial diaspora providing a basis of unity and social change.. the idea of doubleness never disclaimed "Americanism"—quite the contrary. the centralization of race effort and the recognition of a racial fount. moreover. Because of this segregation. loyalties. therefore. Du Bois argued that the war provided an opportunity for subjugated peoples to claim a world historic role that had been ignored and brutalized throughout modern history. The doubleness was not so much psychological and debilitating as full of political possibilities. [1919a: 166]35 The power of diasporic identity." Du Bois wrote at the close of the war (1919a:165)... In the years that followed. and politics. were full of the possibilities to sustain multiple identities as U. of Humanity.D1ASPORIC IDENTITIES: BOAS AND DU BO1S 151 In part. patriotism would contribute to "the day of the Inter-nation. preserved. he saw the necessity of "deliberate propaganda for race pride" (1933a:200). In part. also meant that the claim to unity was based on a shared experience of exploitation. as he had argued earlier. like the burdens of double-consciousness. But we are all one—we the Despised and Oppressed. To help bear the burden of Africa does not mean any lessening of effort in our own problem at home. This history. race. Rather it means increased interest. by the "Color Line" as well as by a shared future of liberation: "The sympathy of Black America must of necessity go out to colored India and colored Egypt. so completely 'made in America' as we" (1919a: 166). including the organization of "intelligent and earnest people of Negro descent for their preservation and advancement in America. see also 1933a: 200). If racism and class distinctions made equality impossible. "A Negro Nation within the Nation" (1935. see also 1986e: 640). provincial or even national background. Du Bois increasingly focused on African Americans as segregated from the rest of society. in the West Indies and in Africa" (1933a:200). and people of the diaspora joined with others dispersed throughout the world. Instead. as they emerged out of the context of World War I. Their forefathers were ancient friends. then these problems "can and must be seen not against any narrow. and the disappearance of 'race' from our vocabulary" (1933a.S. but in relation to the great . Du Bois proclaimed what might be called now a double allegiance: The African movement means to us what the Zionist movement must mean to the Jews. and homes. especially in the context of the Depression's erosion of hope of economic equality in the United States. This hatefulness. Du Bois's conceptions of nation. citizens. cousins. "There is nothing so indigenous. he argued a short time later. Colored America is indeed involved. 199). however. he also argued that the struggle of Americans of African descent was one with the struggle of peoples of color throughout the world. was now imbued with a new force. in the hoary ages of antiquity. lay in its potential for organized movement from these multiple connections. blood-brothers.

The Negro has long been the clown of history.S. 262). Boas's decision also signifies the extent to which they formulated their identities in different. Both men looked increasingly to transnational forms of identity while recognizing the persistent appeals of unity. even opposite ways. were a formative moment in which Boas's and Du Bois's larger concern with problems of race diverged. By 1940. was gone: "Negroes have no Zion" (1986e:777). In the years that followed. I am at least paying Truth the respect of earnest effort. but also over the possibilities for scientific and political resolutions of racism and over how they positioned their own roles in these solutions." it became important to challenge the academic social scientific view on race.37 Characteristic of Boas's scruples as a scientist. 1920. "there are interests which draw him nearer to the dark people outside of America than to his white fellow citizens" (1933b:247). In his 1939 introduction to Black Folk: Then and Now. for the champions of white folk are legion. Du Bois and Boas had ended up in similar territory by circuitous routes over a divergent path during the war. I am trying to show here why these attitudes can no longer be maintained. and the slave of industry. when Du Bois published Dusk of Dawn. For Du Bois's identity as "black. William Rose Benet asked Boas to review Du Bois's autobiography. and the American black was American. the nationalist component of his argument. [1939:ix] Consequently.36 However." with his disillusionment with the promise of the United States. Pan-African unity had become a claim for racial and economic justice and survival based on a cosmopolitan view of diaspora politics. Her cause I seek to serve. then. Du Bois defended his complicity in his subject matter: I do not for a moment doubt that my Negro descent and narrow group culture have in many cases predisposed me to interpret my facts too favorably for my race. racial violence with his own reconceptualization of the "Negro problem.152 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY problem of the colored races of the world and particularly those of African descent" (1933b:247). a reworking of the 1915 publication The Negro (1970). The more quickly the call to "Pan-Africa" for "the industrial and spiritual emancipation of the Negro peoples" was heeded. and wherever I fail. Du Bois identified the history of U. Du Bois thought. the football of anthropology. "the sooner we shall find ourselves citizens of the world and not its slaves and pensioners" (1933b:247. his refusal to engage arguments he perceived as nonscientific drove a wedge between his social reform aims and Du Bois's self-proclaimed propagandizing. and ultimately with his sense of the global . but there is little danger of long misleading here. their ideas were sufficiently linked that in a letter dated March 19. not only over their positions on the conflict itself. 1920. I realize that the truth of history lies not in the mouths of partisans but rather in the calm Science that sits between. Darkwater (1920)—composed in part from earlier writings—for the New York Evening Post. still present in fleeting ways in 1919. Even though "most of our racial distinctions" are "idiotic" (1933b:247). Boas declined because the "book is so much an emotional literary product" (Franz Boas Papers). The war years. in a response dated March 22.

On the other hand. Boas's primary self-definition as a scientist came in response to being Jewish. in part. in recent times. the promising challenge to what Paul Gilroy has called "ethnic absolutisms" (1993:3. in effect. not to being "white. justified in disturbingly the same terms. of which race-based nationalism has been among the most . to evade. as I suggested at the beginning of this article. Jews transformed the academy. he saw more as a failure of communication than as a shortcoming of the medium of science itself. Part of the problem lies in the attractiveness. To note that serious scientific challenges to the meaning of race are again surfacing does not alter the political horizon. Boas also persisted in the belief that science could offer a cosmopolitan answer to the particularism of prejudice. of "authentic" forms of identity. 5. poised in battles over the very same issues of race. we owe much to them for mobilizing intellectual efforts against the rising tide of race science and for providing articulate ammunition in the service of antiracist science and politics. The difficulty lay less in their abilities to apply their theories to contemporary realities than in the shortcomings of their vision of diasporic connections. This different self-concept encouraged Boas to continue his faith in science by separating the cultural self from the intellectual problems he addressed. In this sense. Boas and Du Bois remind us of earlier efforts and arguments that we too often forget when we indulge the conceit that we have invented our own conflicts. and why Boas and Du Bois have become increasingly central to these debates. and nationalism. especially in the wake of the First World War.38 In contrast. enlightenment inspired" outlook and refusal "to be Jewish parochials" (1996:19). particularly the sciences.383). nor does it offer much heartening news on the promises of enlightenment. Neither succeeded in reorienting the war into what William James might have called a moral equivalent of anthropology (for Boas by avoiding bloodshed and for Du Bois by turning the war into a path for racial justice)." As David Hollinger has argued for a somewhat later time period.40 We need only look to recent evidence of ethnic cleansing and nationalist genocide to see that these terrors remain. in his time. On the one hand. to explain the difficulty of offering workable and lasting solutions to the most pressing world catastrophe they had yet faced. a racialized view of self—quite the opposite of Du Bois's strategy. The distinction between Boas's recourse to science and Du Bois's insistence on politics helps. 223) did not translate well into a workable politics. As we face many of the same problems today. the very persistence of these conflicts raises the important question of why so little has changed. Conclusion The parallelism and divergence of Boas's and Du Bois's critiques of "race" and racism provide the evidence of both their achievements and their more troubling legacies. with their "cosmopolitan. Similarly. why we are now. He ended Black Folk: Then and Now with words echoing his own of almost 40 years earlier: "The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line" (1939.39 What frustration Boas did feel. racism.D1ASPORIC IDENTITIES: BOAS AND DU BOIS 153 nature of the issues.

Du Bois's emerging class analysis. that Boas's and Du Bois's arguments were not worth making. When such change does occur. At the very least. but other activists whose political and legal struggles extend earlier intellectual work (see Baker 1994:200). Despite their genuine concern to put theories into action. ironically. Boas's and Du Bois's abiding faith in reasoned argument did not ultimately end even the most egregious evidence of prejudice and ethnocentrism. The adaptability of the culture concept and the neglect of Boas' s and Du Bois's ideas of diffusion and historical interconnections. because as problematic. just as they may also contribute to a search for folkloric origins in invented cultures in the new European ethnic nationalisms. adds to current discussions that tend to privilege differences marked by race. the materialism of his arguments on diasporic connections. In this respect. it begs the question of reestablishing the connections between intellectual work and public life. By taking into account a broader range of difference. and antiessentialism have appeared to have a much harder row to hoe. however. appeals to alternative forms of identity that are rooted in conceptions of fluidity. We as intellectuals should ask if part of the difficulty in resolving these problems lies in the way that we have framed the issues. neither Boas nor Du Bois acknowledged how their elitism—their ideas on difference and "distinction" (Posnock 1995)—made it more difficult to disseminate their messages or to anticipate the limits of their appeal. this chasm exemplifies the great void that exists between academic discourse (in the United States. even while silencing a larger political discourse. That the politics of the Right seem to be able to engage at least a certain spectrum of political debate. have contributed to essentialism by formulating a holistic concept of culture to understand the intransigence of nationalism and cultural-centrism. This is not to say. Similarly. Du Bois's own disaffection with scientific solutions and affirmation of politics helped enable the translation of these concerns over the course of his very long life. conflicted. can help sharpen our own understandings of racialism in a global perspective. aided and abetted the national character studies during the Second World War. and ambivalent as Du Bois's views may have been. Marginalization of African American intellectuals like Du Bois also meant that those most positioned to offer arguments against the depoliticized nature of social science often went unheard (Harrison and Nonini 1992:231). intellectual debate can be enlivened and more effectual. and the subsequent reception and uses of their work may. In actuality. Boas. they still offered some of the most important. as in the case of the civil rights movement. . it is not usually intellectuals who lead the way. for instance. and if we might do things differently. along with Boas's discussion of the vast history of the diffusion of peoples and cultures. on the Left in particular) and the broader public. and gender without comparable attention to political economy. makes it extremely difficult for the political insights of intellectuals on the Left to work along with a broader agenda of political and social change. ethnicity. for instance. This is an especially significant loss.154 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY powerful. In a sense. Du Bois's mystical Pan-Africanism easily appealed to many forms of racial chauvinism less tolerant than his. multiplicity. Despite their sense of the power of emotions. his students.

Sundquist's provocative use of Boas's 1889 essay "On Alternating Sounds" (1974a) as a "paradigm for the relationship of two conflicting yet coalescing cultural traditions" (1993:6). as threatening and tantalizing in their own day as in ours. expound and exhort. Du Bois and the Autobiography of Race. Earlier versions of this article were presented at the Organization of American Historians meeting in Atlanta. E. . The Cosmopolitan Imagination: Franz Boas and the Development of American Anthropology. Michael Roth. in my forthcoming book. 1992:34-37) on the science of human variability and genetics and their influence on Du Bois. Du Bois Library. B. 4. B. The introduction to The Oxford W.1 am indebted to the following individuals for their astute and generous comments. of course. Notes Acknowledgments. and Jennifer Karson helped locate photographs. including their insights into the ineluctable nature of "race. November 1996." seems to miss this distinction (Sundquist 1996:6-8). if misguided. Richard Handler. yet strive to overcome its limitations: "Crucified on the wheel of time. to see. waving my pen and lifting faint voices to explain. Du Bois Reader. The current explosion of interest in Du Bois and the symbolic. I see the relationships as more particularly historical. and the possibilities for social transformation. Nahum Chandler. foresee and prophesy. stubborn errors of fact and interpretation are. George W. E. in somewhat different form. I depart from the argument of the "revolt against formalism" by contextualizing the reorientation more directly in the development of modern society. use of Boas and Du Bois as representative men in the culture wars by such commentators as Dinesh D'Souza remind us of the political importance of their work. E.. to the few who could or would listen" (1986e:555). Thanks to the publisher for approving prior publication here. entitled "W. my own: Daniel Segal. November 1995. although remaining." the resistant powers of racism. 30.DIASPORIC IDENTITIES: BOAS AND DU BOIS 155 consistent. Similarly. B. Lee Baker. David Levering Lewis. and the anonymous referees for Cultural Anthropology. 3. A different version of this piece appeared in Boas 191 lc. unlike Eric J. On modernity and modernism see also Calinescu 1977 and Gilroy 1993. to be published by the University of Chicago Press. Portions of this article will appear. The very power of Boas's and Du Bois's critiques explains. why they remain touchstones for such challenges in our own time and why it is so important to remember accurately their arguments and struggles. Cheryl Walker. B. in part. April 1994. On formalism see White 1957 and Stocking 1982a. Scott DeHaven and Beth Carroll-Horrocks of the American Philosophical Society. April 1997. 2. Pauline Turner Strong. 1. These are the legacies of W. Stocking Jr. It is worth noting the Boasian nature of Anthony Appiah's arguments (1985:21-22. and the American Ethnological Society meeting in Seattle. See also note 28 below. Du Bois and Franz Boas. and inspiring counters to a consensus on racial hierarchy and violence. the Social Science History Association meeting in Chicago. Herb Lewis. the American Studies Association meeting in Kansas City. the importance of dissent and variety. In this respect. I flew round and round with the Zeitgeist. Du Bois's words toward the beginning of Dusk of Dawn serve as a reminder of how we are all embedded in history. Linda Seidman of the W. E.

which would envelop conceptions of "blood" and spirit while criticizing contemporary ideas of racial essences and hierarchies. etc. and cultural elements. 10. Gooding-Williams 1996. and colonialism. the Greek and Roman. 487 links this "diaspora aesthetic" to the "problem of the color line. in a letter dated April 25. commerce. 461. In a letter dated May 21. when Du Bois wrote of his life as a "race concept" in Dusk of Dawn. Significantly. Du Bois was still grappling with American and African American exceptionalism here and not. the N e g r o . global world. linguistic." Gilroy 1993:30. And yet because the subject of amalgamation with black races is a sore point with us. And yet here in America we have not only the opportunity to observe and measure nearly all the world's great races in juxta-position." After Du Bois repeated the invitation on March 31. They all appear to miss Du Bois's insistence on ideas of nationhood. In my view. Boas finally accepted at the eleventh hour. we have hitherto utterly neglected and thrown away every opportunity to study and Icnow this ." an effort to combine senses of privilege and difference. later confirmed that Boas would deliver the commencement address. Sundquist 1993:15. Gilroy 1993:134-135 suggests that Du Bois's taxonomy ("the Egyptian and Indian. along with environmental. 1906. the acting president of Atlanta University. . marked by population growth. appears in this way to reflect the peculiar pairing of Du Bois's elitism with his emerging class analysis. that Du Bois combined "racial solidarity and a commitment to social equality" (1994:184. Gilroy 1993:110 also emphasizes affirming the "curse of enforced exile. On the influences of German and American romanticism and the psychology of William James on Du Bois's idea of double-consciousness see also Bell 1996. Nahum Chandler (1997) suggested these connections to me. Edward T. promising "a great opportunity here for physical measurement of Negroes. 126 emphasizes the "polyphonic form" of The Souls of Black Folk and the connection of double-consciousness and the diaspora. with American and African or Negro identities. Ware. For a useful discussion of Du Bois's complicated and perhaps contradictory use of both biological and cultural conceptions of race to challenge racialism see Outlaw 1996. 1906. and Appiah 1992. the birth of this alienated self coincided with the development of "Progress with a capital P" (1986e:572-573). to ask for "the best and latest works bearing on the anth[r]opology of the Negro—particularly his physical measurements. Bruce 1992. See also Omi and Winant 1994 for an argument. 9." He went on to invite Boas to the next conference at Atlanta on "Negro Physique" on May 29. 13. egalitarian. although it is not clear who issued the invitation (Franz Boas Papers). and racialist conclusions (Stocking 1994:15—16). " [1986c:364]) was derived from Hegel. andZamir 1995. the Teuton and Mongolian. 6. 1906. On the power of alienation for radical critique in Du Bois's writings see Holt 1990. improvements in transportation. 1906 (Franz Boas Papers). 115. Du Bois went on to describe the promise of the Atlanta studies to uncover the history of racial contact: There is no question before the scientific world in regard to which there is more guess work and wild theorizing than in regard to causes and characteristics of the diverse human species. health. 1905. technology. George Stocking discusses the inclusive meanings and usage of "race" at the turn of the century that combined physical. against Appiah. but more than that to watch a long and intricate process of amalgamation carried out on hundreds of years and resulting in millions of men of mixed blood. 7. Du Bois had originally written to Boas on October 11. 12. markets. note 32).156 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 5. 11. all factors in the formation of a modern. . as Eric Sundquist has argued (1993:15)." 8. What Ross Posnock (1995) calls "distinction.

intelligence" (Franz Boas Papers). The question of Du Bois's influence on Boas remains an open one. 20. On September 10. 15. the only way . Zora Neale Hurston worked on this study with Boas. Boas's assimilationism was expressed both as science and as social policy: first. Du Bois also repeatedly cites the volume from the 1911 Universal Races Congress (Spiller 1911). 18. Boas did not attend. and in a letter dated February 13. for instance. [1904:86] 14. According to Du Bois (191 la:401). racial types would merge and approach a middle ground ("The Real Race Problem" [1910] and Changes in Bodily Forms [1911a]) and.D1A5KJKIC IDENTITIES: BOAS AND DU BOIS 157 vast mulatto population and have deliberately and doggedly based our statements and conclusions concerning this class upon pure fiction or unvarnished lies. see Hutchinson 1995:65 and Appiah 1992:28-46. the official publication of the NAACP. 16. 17. It also illustrates the extent to which Boas's arguments were part of a larger. is striking (Du Bois 1911a:402-403. Geiss 1974:114. 1929. Boas published "The Real Race Problem" (1910) in the first volume of The Crisis. He was then 77 years old (Franz Boas Papers). the question of Boas's neglect of Du Boisian influences contributed to an incomplete and imbalanced recognition of those contributions and a failure to incorporate their critical insights. emphasizing those Europeans who were his intellectual ancestors but leaving out American scholars. Boas gave a selective list of the history of the discipline. 191 lc: 157-158). Rampersad 1976:229. as summarized in The Crisis. On the influence of Boasian anthropology more broadly on the cultural agenda of the Harlem Renaissance. Boas's alone among the Dillingham Commission reports argued to keep immigration open. His other example was of Jews (1974c:314). As Harrison and Nonini (1992:244) address. so as to be able to correlate social environment and. 1911d:202). see Hutchinson 1995:62-77. he declined because he was too busy to take on new projects at his age. what psychologists please to call. See Hutchinson 1995:63. The reports were used as evidence for the national quota laws of 1921 and 1924. Although Boas wrote on October 7 that he supported the idea. Du Bois also asked Boas to contribute to an Encyclopaedia of the Negro that he was organizing. international community of antiracial science (see also Du Bois 1911a. In "The History of Anthropology" (1904). Lewis 1993:251-252. This was characteristic of Boas's tendency to stress European over American influences. At the very least. The Boasian nature of the Races Congress conclusions. in which he quoted Boas's "dictum" against racial inferiority from "The Negro and the Demands of Modern Life" (Boas 1905:87). Du Bois solicited an article from Boas for The Crisis on one of a range of topics: "Is there a new American Negro race being developed? What has intelligence testing proven concerning Negro ability? What recent studies or investigations throw light upon the African Negro?" Boas responded on February 14 that he was working on a study of "the significance of intelligence testing among Negroes" in order "to investigate a community in detail in regard to its social background and to prepare tests accordingly. 19. On Boas's influence on the shift from the 19th-century racialist nationalism of Alexander Crummell and Du Bois to 20th-century culturalist understandings of national and other group identities. in his view. Du Bois was more scrupulous in citing Boas as an authority than Boas was in return. The Manchester Guardian said that Du Bois's paper was the best one presented (Green and Driver 1987:22-23). Apparently nothing came of Du Bois's request. second. For Boas's influence on Du Bois see also The Negro (Du Bois 1970) and "Race Friction between Blacks and Whites" (Du Bois 1908:836). 1935.

Boas's own rather new emphasis on racism as opposed to racialism also reflected this interest in the influence of irrational. of course. was omitted from the version published in the Post (1919c). Although Boas began to articulate a recognizable culture concept that was historicist. 219-220. . the world would gladly support the effort. as 1 had confidently assumed would be easily forthcoming. [l986e:603] Du Bois goes on to discuss the lack of financial support for the Atlanta studies and the ill effects of his battles with Booker T. plural. in his view. 25. 21. it is consistent with his earlier criticism of education for teaching official beliefs and imparting tradition rather than critical thinking (1915c:S). that the First World War was an important turning point in his consideration of culture that was most fully articulated in the postwar period in the work of his second generation of students. On the other hand. By doing this. Du Bois was referring to his awakening after the lynching of Sam Hose. However. Boas's letters to the editors of various newspapers were no longer being published. to sufficiently criticize the war effort. 222-223. Boas concluded with this phrase: "If it were for no other reasons. Boas was a transitional figure in the formulation of this central idea in anthropology. that I should want to see maintained the individuality of nations" (1945b: 182). Boas sharpened his view against intellectuals "as a segregated class" (1918:146). integrated. language. By the end of the war. 1915. Washington between 1903 and 1908 (1986e:603). Stocking suggests in "Franz Boas and the Culture Concept in Historical Perspective" (1982b). but also never universally true. I regarded it as axiomatic that the world wanted to learn the truth and if the truth was sought with even approximate accuracy and painstaking devotion. 28. 22. such as Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead. On the one hand. "It touches the most sympathetic chords of our hearts" (1915b:9). 230-231). primarily through the work of the first generation of his students.158 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY to solve the problem of racialized conflict was to reach a society of complete mixture ("The Problem of the American Negro" [1921:384-395]). As George W. but a young man's idealism. Boas first composed the passage quoted here as part of a letter he sent to the editor of the New York Evening Post. I am not in politics. he did not formulate it in publications until about 1930 (1982b:202-203. See also note 39 below. and as a scientist I am naturally and essentially an individualist" (1915c:5). 27. specifically within the context of wartime. This was. there was no such definite demand for scientific work of the sort that I was doing. cultural determinants. He went on to elaborate on the impossibility of scientific neutrality while Negroes were lynched. like most of Boas's argument about internationalism in the context of war. 26. however. with the disclaimer "I am a scientist. 23. this passage. stemming from his frustration with those who failed. murdered and starved. 24. Boas's argument about intellectuals' greater attachment to tradition is surprising. In Race and Nationality Boas wrote. he also developed a public position on these issues which. and nation. it would be for this reason. behaviorist. That Boas repeated himself on these and other issues connected to the war suggests that he was consolidating an argument on the interrelationships of race. Boas began his comments on the question "Will Socialism Help to Overcome Race Antagonisms?" (1915c) at a Socialist Press Club dinner in March. and secondly. and relativistic in the first decade of the 20th century. encouraged him to redouble his efforts. to the extent that they were resisted or ignored. I would argue. not by any means false.

When he speculated on what might have occurred had he dissented. who had suggested the plan. 32. Perhaps. his belief in the centrality of Africa in the conflict. Looking back on his civil rights work during the Great War. that they were not basically. and his ultimate endorsement of the war effort. The nationalist and Pan-African arguments that Du Bois made during the post-World War I period once again show him as a transitional figure. and about the shortsightedness of his wartime reformism: "I am less sure now than then of the soundness of this war attitude. See also "World War and the Color Line" on the "essential equality of all men" ( D u B o i s 1914:29). and that once the majority of well-meaning folk realized their evil machinations. I use the term Negro because it is the one Du Bois himself used and because African American confuses the very issues I am discussing—the relative and connected importance of American and African identities. The general terms of the title. This orientation is lost in the Lewis anthology. we would be able to secure justice. As Du Bois remembered it. was not sufficient to settle them. 'The African Roots of War." indicate the coexistence of broad historical and transhistorical or mythical elements in Du Bois's writings. 31. in Dusk of Dawn. in the black diaspora" which would carry the benefits of civilization to . this time between what Lively has called "traditional" black nationalism. as I had assumed. a movement of the "vanguard of the race . Du Bois describes the shift that occurred between the time he left Atlanta in 1910 to after the First World War: These days were the climacteric of my pilgrimage. Lewis 1995:555-556 and Ellis 1992 have explained Du Bois's uncharacteristic confusion as a sign of his inability to come to terms with his duplicity in obtaining a wartime commission. which erroneously reprints the article as "The African Roots of the War" (1995:642-651). particularly considering his suspicion of war in general. Similarly. despite words. 29. Du Bois later found that "I have difficulty in thinking clearly" (1986e:739). . I had come to the place where I was convinced that science. in contrast to his subtitle "Autobiography of a Race Concept. I am puzzled" (1986e:741). black confuses the issue of color with which Du Bois was also so concerned. he said in an uncharacteristic tone of confusion. the careful social study of the Negro problems. combining these particular events with the lasting soreness of his conflicts with Washington and how they marginalized him. Dusk of Dawn (1986e). he was quite broad in his discussion. but it is just as likely that Du Bois was more honest about his loyalty to Joel Spingarn (a founding member of the NAACP). with his "autobiography of race" a "digressive illustration" (1986e:716) of these issues. if the black man went free" (1986e:740-741). this event marked a conscious departure from his earlier attempt to face "the facts of my own social situation and racial world" by putting "science into sociology through a study of the condition and problems of my own group" (1986e:590). "I do not know." Perhaps the alienating effects of race and scientific neutrality were being resolved in a story of "race" in the context of this shift to political objectives and means.DIASPORIC IDENTITIES: BOAS AND DU BOIS 159 Although he was unclear about the exact chronology in his autobiography. [1986e:716] There is an interesting shift here in his self-presentation. 30. . Lewis places the events in April 1899 (1993:226). Later. I did not realize the full horror of war and its wide impotence as a method of social reform. I was thinking narrowly of the interest of my group and was willing to let the world go to hell. I believed that this evil group formed a minority and a small minority of the nation and of all civilized peoples. difficulties due to ignorance but rather difficulties due to the determination of certain people to suppress and mistreat the darker races. It is interesting that while Du Bois singled this moment out as a turning point. 33.

In "The Problem of the American Negro" (1921). understood in anthropological ways: Living with my mother's people I absorbed their culture patterns and these were not African so much as Dutch and New England. Boas's and Du Bois's approaches to the problem of racism also reveal their different orientations and the analyses that derived from them. [1986e:638] 35." but he also qualified it by saying on October 30. and modern black nationalism. 34. 149—152) emphasize Du Bois's position as an example of a nationalism based on racial but not geographical or linguistic unity. and "sources of race antagonism" (1921:384). on the other. 38. my recoil from the assumptions of the whites. a critique of these very values which emphasized instead the liberatory struggles against Euro-American imperialism and its "ethnocentricity" (1984:207-208)." of Darkwater (1920). or racism. luxury. Africa. Although these are accurate depictions of Du Bois's Pan-Africanism. 36. Both Moses (1978:17. Boas did agree to review the second book Benet requested. [1921:3921 . My African racial feeling was then purely a matter of my own later learning and reaction. "from among the most distinguished American Jews. my experience in the South at Fisk. an argument that demonstrates his insights for his own time and ours: The proletariat of the world consists not simply of white European and American workers but overwhelmingly of the dark workers of Asia. they neglect a fuller discussion of just what conception of "nation" and "race" Du Bois was using. [1939:3831 39. At the same time I was firm in asserting that these Negroes were Americans. "The Hands of Ethiopia. he accepted because he was a member of "various European Academies. and "A Hymn to the Peoples.. and in the conflict between labor and capitalism. But it was none the less real and a large determinant of my life and character. and to ascribe to him all the characteristics of his class We find this spirit [also] at work in anti-Semitism as well as in American nativism. "an examination into the influence of the negroes upon American Civilization" (Franz Boas Papers). Leo Wiener's Africa and the Discovery of America (1920-1922). See also note 27. "The African Roots of War" (Du Bois 1915) appeared in revised form as chapter 3. 1934 (Franz Boas Papers). An interesting comparison might be made here with Randolph Bourne's "The Jew and Trans-National America" (1916).160 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY Africans. 23-25) and Fredrickson (1995:143-144." which he had written and read before the Universal Races Congress (1911 d:209). Du Bois used himself as an example of how Africa figured as a contingent but no less affecting source of identity. also a wartime commentary on the meanings of nationalism and cosmopolitanism. This latter problem. and extravagance." in a letter from Abraham Burstein on October 16. Characteristically. 37. Boas differentiated between ideas on racial hierarchies and differences. We have recently seen it at its height in the emotions called forth by the world war. "As a scientist I do not feel any attachment to any particular group. Du Bois preceded this notable phrase with the following. he saw as a result of the tendency of the human mind to merge the individual in the class to which he belongs. above." and asked that there be no public ceremonies (Franz Boas Papers). I felt myself African by "race" and by that token that was African and an integral member of the group of dark Americans who were called Negroes. on the one hand.. It is the rise of these people that is the rise of the world. When Boas was nominated to be an honorary fellow of the Jewish Academy of Arts and Sciences. concluded the book. a new area of analysis for Boas after the war.. These are the ones who are supporting a superstructure of wealth. the islands of the sea. and South and Central America.

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