Bunzel, Ruth Leah (1898–1990)

Ruth Leah Bunzel was born in 1898 to a Jewish family in Manhattan, New York. In 1918 she earned a bachelor's degree in European history from Barnard College. Shortly after her graduation, she began work as a secretary to Franz Boas, who soon launched her anthropological career. In 1924 she accompanied Ruth Benedict to the Southwest, where Boas insisted that she undertake her own project: to understand the relationship between the artist and her work.

In the early part of the 20th century, anthropologists sought to place themselves both inside and outside their objects of study. By means of participant observation—directly participating in a culture and observing the habits of people living inside that culture—anthropologists hoped to be able to understand cultures better than their predecessors. ...

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