Bastian, Adolf

Bastian, Adolf äˈdôlf bäsˈtyän [key], 1826–1905, German anthropologist. Often called the father of ethnography, he recorded his observations of peoples and cultures in Der Mensch in der Geschichte [man in history] (1860). His concept of “elemental ideas” as common to mankind but varying in form according to “folk ideas” of a given area foreshadows the kulturkreis of Wilhelm Schmidt. His influence was transmitted through the works of Franz Boas and others. Bastian's important studies appeared in the Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, which he helped to found and edit, and in Ethnologische Forschungen (1871–73).

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