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The historical development of the work of anthropologists seems to single out clearly a domain of knowledge that heretofore has not been treated by any other science.

Franz Boas

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He applied the scientific method to the study of human cultures and societies; previously this discipline was based on the formulation of grand theories around anecdotal knowledge. Like many such pioneers he trained in other disciplines; he received his doctorate in physics and did post-doctoral work in geography. Boas once summed up his approach to anthropology and folklore by saying: "In the course of time I became convinced that a materialistic point of view for a physicist a very real one was untenable.

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