Reader Response: Race, Language, and Culture
Race, Language and Culture
. New York: The Free Press, 1940
s: Racial Heredity, Intermingling (6), Biological degeneracy (7), anatomical form and
function (7), mortality and migration (8), biology v. physiological/psychological (8), racially het-
erogeneous v racially homogenous (16)
: The central argument which Boas presents within
Race, Language and Cultures
sponds to the seeming institutional and structural confinements Boas observes within the “ideo-
logies” of race & culture.
It is race, Boas argues, which has lead to the stratification and divi-
sion of the human species within the creation of such conceptual groupings.
Despite the intro-
ductory focus upon physical appearance, Boas begins to draw the underlying similarities which
exist between cultures to reveal the humans as a single species.
In this sense, Boas comes to see
the ideal of race existing solely to create a hierarchal structure.
Both differences and similarities
which exist between said “races” are attributed by Boas to the diffusion of humans.
Thus, it is
by race that social constructs and norms experience varying progression and development
Yet, Boas states, it is this unnecessary stratification that leads to the “infinite
human struggle.” (Boas 16)
As such, he rejects the claim of the racial construct and its claimed
biological foundation by observing the biological similarities which exist beyond the scope of
simple physical appearance.
Understanding the similarities, Boas thus asserts race is created by
its “social appeal in our society” (Boas 16) where by this fear to maintain the homogenous race
to avoid degeneracy is upheld when in fact, Boas reveals, can lead to a greater result than any
Thus Boas conveys the created notion of race rather than a natural biological exist-
: The structural context through which Boas presents his article
Race, Language, and
is one steeped within the inquiry and exploration into the ideology of races. Within
main address encompassing what he refers to as the “problems due to the intermingling of racial
types,” (Boas 3)
he observes the development of human behavior as a result of such divisions
among the human species.
Initially he begins by addressing the stereotypical view towards the
description of race defining individuals based upon their physical characteristics.