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Entering Dubious Realms: Grover Krantz, Science, and Sasquatch

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Physical anthropologist Grover Krantz (1931-2002) spent his career arguing that the anomalous North American primate called Sasquatch was a living animal. He attempted to prove the creature's existence by applying to the problem the techniques of physical anthropology: methodologies and theoretical models that were outside the experience of the amateur enthusiasts who dominated the field of anomalous primate studies. For his efforts, he was dismissed or ignored by academics who viewed the Sasquatch, also commonly called Bigfoot, as at best a relic of folklore and at worst a hoax, and Krantz's project as having dubious value. Krantz also received a negative reaction from amateur Sasquatch researchers, some of whom threatened and abused him. His career is best situated therefore as part of the discussion about the historical relationship between amateur naturalists and professional scientists. The literature on this relationship articulates a combining/displacement process: when a knowledge domain that has potential for contributions to science is created by amateurs, it will eventually combine with and then be taken over by professionals, with the result that amateur leadership is displaced. This paper contributes to that discussion by showing the process at work in Krantz's failed attempt to legitimize Bigfoot research by removing it from the amateur sphere and repositioning it in the professional world of anthropology.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: History Department, Kean University, Union, NJ, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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