Anthropology is the study of human behavior and culture, and anthropologists in the United States divide their research into four sub-fields of study: physical anthropology; archaeology; linguistic anthropology; and cultural anthropology. North American anthropology draws its impetus from the foundational work of Franz Boas, a professor at Columbia University who lived along the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island, Canada for one year in the late nineteenth century where he kept copious notes of the language, life ways and customs of the Inuit. The following year, Boas collaborated with several museums conducting fieldwork along the North Pacific Coast setting the tone for anthropologists working closely with native peoples taking extensive field-notes about their world and worldviews as well as collaborating with museums to educate the public about these very issues. Following Boas’s example, anthropologists have conducted ethnographic research on cultures throughout the world and have, through museums, archival collections, and publications, created a rich record of humanity’s diverse belief systems, forms of social organization, and political dynamics.The Border Studies Archive, with it focus on the U.S. Mexico border in general and the Rio Grande Valley in particular, represents one such documentation and preservation initiative.

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Copyright © 2014, The University of Texas-Pan American. This chapter first appeared in From Porciones to Colonias: The Power of Place-and Community-Based Learning in K-12 Education—A Case Study From the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

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