Field's Conclusions

In July 1934, after more than 7,000 photographs had been taken, Henry Field left Iraq to continue his anthropometric survey of the Near East. Whatever might be said about the expedition’s science, its images haunt us to this day. PM 53-26-60/15921.13

In his conclusions and observations about measuring the Marsh Arabs, Field wrote,  “The distinction between Madan and non-Madan is indefinite and appears to be one of calling rather than of race” (Field 1949:254). At the same time that Field was coming to this conclusion, Franz Boas had already revolutionized American anthropology by arguing that race is not determined by biology but rather by environment and culture. The extensive notes from Field’s expedition on the ecology of the marshes and local customs testify to the expedition members’ commitment to a more holistic approach to the understanding of race.