In 1860, Adolf Bastian (1826–1905) argued for "the psychic unity of mankind."  He proposed that a scientific comparison of all human societies would reveal that distinct worldviews consisted of the same basic elements. According to Bastian, all human societies share a set of "elementary ideas" ( Elementargedanken ); different cultures, or different "folk ideas" ( Völkergedanken ), are local modifications of the elementary ideas.  This view paved the way for the modern understanding of culture. Franz Boas (1858–1942) was trained in this tradition, and he brought it with him when he left Germany for the United States. 
It used to be said that there were three kinds of anthropologists: Those who have done fieldwork in one location, those who have done fieldwork in two, and Fredrik Barth. In many ways the anthropologist's anthropologist, Barth (b. 1928) has a career that spans over half a century, and which can be used to tell many different stories: About intellectual trends in the latter half of the 20th century, about social anthropology and the study of ‘remote places’ (as well as those nearby), about the human condition and about a remarkable man whose thirst for experience-based knowledge was matched by his ability to identify what was at stake for other people and to develop analytical perspectives from his ethnographic experiences. The biography was published in Norwegian by Universitetsforlaget in 2013, and the English edition is published by Pluto Press in summer 2015.