Female Genital Mutilation And The Country Of Mali Essay example

1025 Words Feb 17th, 2015 5 Pages
Anthropologist Franz Boas is well-known for promoting the concept of cultural relativism. Meaning, practices, beliefs, and ideas within a certain culture make sense within that culture. As an outsider, certain beliefs or practices of cultures that are different from our own can easily be misunderstood or interpreted incorrectly. Although cultural relativism promotes the idea of respecting and understanding the beliefs and practices of different cultures, when does a certain practice/belief become a violation of human rights? Anthropologist Claudie Gosselin examines the issue of female genital mutilation in the country of Mali through a recent ethnography and discusses the controversies surrounding the issue. Gosselin forms her arguments from Boas and other anthropologists to explain her research on female genital mutilation and how feminist anthropologists should study this issue. The concept of cultural relativism came about through the work of Franz Boas. Boas himself never called his theory cultural relativism; however, his idea was labeled this in the 1950s. Boas believed that, “…societies were the result of their own unique histories…then there would be no universal yardstick to judge them. Their traits were the result of their historical and environmental circumstance and could only be understood within that context.” (McGee and Warms 2011: 114). Boas also insisted that, “…only through living with people and learning their language that one could develop an accurate…

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