Friending Franz Boas

« previous post | next post »

Today Franz Boas invited me to become his Facebook friend. Yes, that Franz Boas, the distinguished anthropologist and linguist. The Facebook profile has the facts right: hometown Minden [in Westphalia], Germany (it doesn't say that he was born there in 1858); current city New York, New York (well, that's where he died, in 1942, in Claude Lévi-Strauss's arms, at the Columbia University Faculty Club); political views socialist.

Boas's many students included anthropologists/linguists Alfred Kroeber and Edward Sapir and others well-known outside of linguistics (Ruth Benedict, Zora Neale Hurston, and Margaret Mead among them).

The Facebook account is a little academic joke, which I'm happy to take part in. Among his Facebook friends are Heidi Harley, Norma Mendoza-Denton, Bill Poser, and Ben Zimmer of this parish, plus quite a few others (Brian Joseph, Dennis Preston, Jesse Sheidlower, Tony Woodbury, for instance).

I'd imagine that Edward Sapir and Leonard Bloomfield will soon be getting accounts.

Share:



11 Comments »

  1. mollymooly said,

    April 19, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

    Jurgen Habermas isn't on Twitter, and he's not even dead.

  2. James C. said,

    April 19, 2010 @ 6:17 pm

    OMG I would totally friend Ed. I dunno about Bloomie though, they say he’s like, kinda weird or something.

  3. Kenny Easwaran said,

    April 20, 2010 @ 12:53 am

    I'm friends with Gottlob Frege and Alan Turing! I believe J.S. Bach is still around too, though I haven't seen any activity on his account lately – I'm beginning to fear the worst.

  4. gribley said,

    April 20, 2010 @ 1:58 am

    heck, that's nothing — I'm friends with Ardipithecus ramidus (via Carl Zimmer, naturally), and he's been dead way longer than Boas!

  5. IrrationalPoint said,

    April 20, 2010 @ 6:44 am

    Lisa and Bart Simpson are on facebook too, and some iconic buildings.

    –IP

  6. Robert Link said,

    April 20, 2010 @ 8:07 pm

    There's a fair few "dead" guys on twitter. My favorite is "R.A.W.", Robert Anton Wilson. When I wrote the twitter folks and told them this had to be a spoof account I got no reply. I reckon one day someone's estate will squawk about this kind of appropriation of name/likeness but that day hasn't yet arrived, and, anyway, maybe it's all just good clean fun. While I few folks might not know RAW died, certainly everyone should know Boas has been gone a while.

  7. Ben said,

    April 21, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

    I want to friend Sapir, but I'm afraid that if I do Ben Whorf will send me a friend request and then get mad when I don't accept.

  8. Robert said,

    April 22, 2010 @ 9:21 pm

    I wonder if Nicolas Bourbaki will be getting an account any time soon. Of course, nobody really knows if he's alive or dead.

  9. Robert said,

    April 22, 2010 @ 9:37 pm

    And another thing, this reminds me of Anton Chekhov's book signing. In New York. In 2004.

    http://improveverywhere.com/2004/02/29/anton-chekov/

  10. 4ndyman said,

    May 4, 2010 @ 3:08 pm

    That's nothin'. One of my Twitter followers is JesusChrist.

  11. mpb said,

    December 16, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

    I have 2 FB FB friends and FB just told me I should friend another. More confusing than a 4-field approach.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Comment