SAAP Annual Meeting 2015

Papers Proceedings »

Towards a Pragmatist Anthropology of Race

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In this paper, we examine the intellectual milieu of Franz Boas and John Dewey in order to problematize the ideal and idealized relationship between critical scholarship and socio-political engagement with race, then and today. We argue that the limitations of Boas and Dewey in dealing with race as a social problem can be explained through a broader analysis of the liberal democratic political order and ideologies of diversity in their times. Furthermore, both of these conditions continue to limit contemporary approaches to the race problem in the United States. We propose a pragmatist anthropology of race and racism that applies Dewey’s philosophy of experience and democracy to the holistic, four-field anthropological approach developed by Boas and his students.


Gabriel Torres    
University of Notre Dame
United States

Charles Hobbs    
Texas State University
United States


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