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Autobiography of an ArchiveA Scholar's Passage to India$
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Nicholas Dirks

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231169677

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231169677.001.0001

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Scholars and Spies

Scholars and Spies

Worldly Knowledge and the Predicament of the University

Chapter:
(p.303) 14 Scholars and Spies
Source:
Autobiography of an Archive
Author(s):

Nicholas B. Dirks

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231169677.003.0015

This chapter discusses the role played by many of Franz Boas's closest students and colleagues in military intelligence and espionage for the United States's war effort in World War II. Boas, the most important anthropologist in the United States, was more outraged by the misuses of science than he was motivated by the uses of scientific authority for social justice. He founded the first American department of anthropology at Columbia University in 1896 and trained some of America's most important anthropologists there, including Alfred Kroeber, Melville Herskovitz, Zora Neale Hurston, Margaret Mead, and Ruth Benedict. Boas championed the rights and civilizational claims of African Americans and criticized American foreign policy. The chapter describes the historical background that provided the context for this book's author's academic socialization into South Asian studies and examines how South Asian area studies was born almost fully formed in the immediate postwar years, the strategic concerns of the Office of Strategic Services, and the intellectual orientation and perspective of W. Norman Brown, professor of Sanskrit at the University of Pennsylvania.

Keywords:   military intelligence, espionage, Franz Boas, United States, World War II, anthropology, Columbia University, foreign policy, South Asian studies, Office of Strategic Services

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