Mead in 1950
|Died||November 15, 1978 76) (aged|
New York City, New York, US
|Children||Mary C. Bateson (born 1939)|
|Awards||Kalinga Prize (1970)|
|Part of a series on the|
|Anthropology of kinship|
| Social anthropology |
Margaret Mead (December 16, 1901 – November 15, 1978) was an American cultural anthropologist who featured frequently as an author and speaker in the mass media during the 1960s and 1970s.She earned her bachelor's degree at Barnard College in New York City and her MA and PhD degrees from Columbia University. Mead served as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1975.
Mead was a communicator of anthropology in modern American and Western culture and was often controversial as an academic.Her reports detailing the attitudes towards sex in South Pacific and Southeast Asian traditional cultures influenced the 1960s sexual revolution. She was a proponent of broadening sexual conventions within the context of Western cultural traditions.
Margaret Mead, the first of five children, was born in Philadelphia, but raised in nearby Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Her father, Edward Sherwood Mead, was a professor of finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and her mother, Emily (née Fogg) Mead,was a sociologist who studied Italian immigrants. Her sister Katharine (1906–1907) died at the age of nine months. This was a traumatic event for Mead, who had named the girl, and thoughts of her lost sister permeated her daydreams for many years. Her family moved frequently, so her early education was directed by her grandmother until, at age 11, she was enrolled by her family at Buckingham Friends School in Lahaska, Pennsylvania. Her family owned the Longland farm from 1912 to 1926. Born into a family of various religious outlooks, she searched for a form of religion that gave an expression of the faith that she had been formally acquainted with, Christianity. In doing so, she found the rituals of the Episcopal Church to fit the expression of religion she was seeking. Mead studied one year, 1919, at DePauw University, then transferred to Barnard College where she found anthropology mired in "the stupid underbrush of nineteenth century arguments."
Mead earned her bachelor's degree from Barnard in 1923, then began studying with professor Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict at Columbia University, earning her master's degree in 1924.Mead set out in 1925 to do fieldwork in Samoa. In 1926, she joined the American Museum of Natural History, New York City, as assistant curator. She received her PhD from Columbia University in 1929.
Before departing for Samoa, Mead had a short affair with the linguist Edward Sapir, a close friend of her instructor Ruth Benedict. But Sapir's conservative ideas about marriage and the woman's role were unacceptable to Mead, and as Mead left to do field work in Samoa the two separated permanently. Mead received news of Sapir's remarriage while living in Samoa, where, on a beach, she later burned their correspondence.
Mead was married three times. After a six-year engagement,she married her first husband (1923–1928) American Luther Cressman, a theology student at the time who eventually became an anthropologist. Between 1925 and 1926 she was in Samoa returning wherefrom on the boat she met Reo Fortune, a New Zealander headed to Cambridge, England, to study psychology. They were married in 1928, after Mead's divorce from Cressman. Mead dismissively characterized her union with her first husband as "my student marriage" in her 1972 autobiography Blackberry Winter, a sobriquet with which Cressman took vigorous issue. Mead's third and longest-lasting marriage (1936–1950) was to the British anthropologist Gregory Bateson, with whom she had a daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson, who would also become an anthropologist.
Mead's pediatrician was Benjamin Spock, 428whose subsequent writings on child rearing incorporated some of Mead's own practices and beliefs acquired from her ethnological field observations which she shared with him; in particular, breastfeeding on the baby's demand rather than a schedule. She readily acknowledged that Gregory Bateson was the husband she loved the most. She was devastated when he left her, and she remained his loving friend ever after, keeping his photograph by her bedside wherever she traveled, including beside her hospital deathbed. :
Mead also had an exceptionally close relationship with Ruth Benedict, one of her instructors. In her memoir about her parents, With a Daughter's Eye, Mary Catherine Bateson implies that the relationship between Benedict and Mead was partly sexual. 117–118 Mead never openly identified herself as lesbian or bisexual. In her writings, she proposed that it is to be expected that an individual's sexual orientation may evolve throughout life.:
She spent her last years in a close personal and professional collaboration with anthropologist Rhoda Metraux, with whom she lived from 1955 until her death in 1978. Letters between the two published in 2006 with the permission of Mead's daughterclearly express a romantic relationship.
Mead had two sisters and a brother, Elizabeth, Priscilla, and Richard. Elizabeth Mead (1909–1983), an artist and teacher, married cartoonist William Steig, and Priscilla Mead (1911–1959) married author Leo Rosten.Mead's brother, Richard, was a professor. Mead was also the aunt of Jeremy Steig.
During World War II, Mead served as executive secretary of the National Research Council's Committee on Food Habits. She served as curator of ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History from 1946 to 1969. She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1948.She taught at The New School and Columbia University, where she was an adjunct professor from 1954 to 1978 and was a professor of anthropology and chair of the Division of Social Sciences at Fordham University's Lincoln Center campus from 1968 to 1970, founding their anthropology department. In 1970, she joined the faculty of the University of Rhode Island as a Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Anthropology.
Following Ruth Benedict's example, Mead focused her research on problems of child rearing, personality, and culture.She served as president of the Society for Applied Anthropology in 1950 and of the American Anthropological Association in 1960. In the mid-1960s, Mead joined forces with communications theorist Rudolf Modley, jointly establishing an organization called Glyphs Inc., whose goal was to create a universal graphic symbol language to be understood by any members of culture, no matter how primitive. In the 1960s, Mead served as the Vice President of the New York Academy of Sciences. She held various positions in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, notably president in 1975 and chair of the executive committee of the board of directors in 1976. She was a recognizable figure in academia, usually wearing a distinctive cape and carrying a walking-stick.
Mead was featured on two record albums published by Folkways Records. The first, released in 1959, An Interview With Margaret Mead, explored the topics of morals and anthropology. In 1971, she was included in a compilation of talks by prominent women, But the Women Rose, Vol.2: Voices of Women in American History.
She is credited with the term "semiotics", making it a noun.
In later life, Mead was a mentor to many young anthropologists and sociologists, including Jean Houston. 370–371:
In 1976, Mead was a key participant at UN Habitat I, the first UN forum on human settlements.
Mead died of pancreatic cancer on November 15, 1978, and is buried at Trinity Episcopal Church Cemetery, Buckingham, Pennsylvania.
In the foreword to Coming of Age in Samoa, Mead's advisor, Franz Boas, wrote of its significance:
Courtesy, modesty, good manners, conformity to definite ethical standards are universal, but what constitutes courtesy, modesty, very good manners, and definite ethical standards is not universal. It is instructive to know that standards differ in the most unexpected ways.
Mead's findings suggested that the community ignores both boys and girls until they are about 15 or 16. Before then, children have no social standing within the community. Mead also found that marriage is regarded as a social and economic arrangement where wealth, rank, and job skills of the husband and wife are taken into consideration.
In 1983, five years after Mead had died, New Zealand anthropologist Derek Freeman published Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth, in which he challenged Mead's major findings about sexuality in Samoan society.Freeman's book was controversial in its turn: later in 1983 a special session of Mead's supporters in the American Anthropological Association (to which Freeman was not invited) declared it to be "poorly written, unscientific, irresponsible and misleading."
In 1999, Freeman published another book, The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead: A Historical Analysis of Her Samoan Research, including previously unavailable material. In his obituary in The New York Times, John Shaw stated that his thesis, though upsetting many, had by the time of his death generally gained widespread acceptance.Recent work has nonetheless challenged his critique. A frequent criticism of Freeman is that he regularly misrepresented Mead's research and views. In a 2009 evaluation of the debate, anthropologist Paul Shankman concluded that:
There is now a large body of criticism of Freeman's work from a number of perspectives in which Mead, Samoa, and anthropology appear in a very different light than they do in Freeman's work. Indeed, the immense significance that Freeman gave his critique looks like 'much ado about nothing' to many of his critics.
While nurture-oriented anthropologists are more inclined to agree with Mead's conclusions, there are other non-anthropologists who take a nature-oriented approach following Freeman's lead, among them Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, biologist Richard Dawkins, evolutionary psychologist David Buss, science writer Matt Ridley and classicist Mary Lefkowitz.The philosopher Peter Singer has also criticized Mead in his book A Darwinian Left , where he states that "Freeman compiles a convincing case that Mead had misunderstood Samoan customs".
In 1996, author Martin Orans examined Mead's notes preserved at the Library of Congress, and credits her for leaving all of her recorded data available to the general public. Orans point out that Freeman's basic criticisms, that Mead was duped by ceremonial virgin Fa'apua'a Fa'amu (who later swore to Freeman that she had played a joke on Mead) were equivocal for several reasons: first, Mead was well aware of the forms and frequency of Samoan joking; second, she provided a careful account of the sexual restrictions on ceremonial virgins that corresponds to Fa'apua'a Fa'auma'a's account to Freeman, and third, that Mead's notes make clear that she had reached her conclusions about Samoan sexuality before meeting Fa'apua'a Fa'amu. Orans points out that Mead's data support several different conclusions, and that Mead's conclusions hinge on an interpretive, rather than positivist, approach to culture. Orans goes on to point out, concerning Mead's work elsewhere, that her own notes do not support her published conclusive claims. However, there are still those who claim Mead was hoaxed, including Peter Singer and zoologist David Attenborough.Evaluating Mead's work in Samoa from a positivist stance, Martin Orans' assessment of the controversy was that Mead did not formulate her research agenda in scientific terms, and that "her work may properly be damned with the harshest scientific criticism of all, that it is 'not even wrong'."
The Intercollegiate Review , published by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute which promotes conservative thought on college campuses,listed the book as No. 1 on its The Fifty Worst Books of the Century list.
Another influential book by Mead was Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies. [ citation needed ]. Others have argued that there is still much cultural variation throughout Melanesia, and especially in the large island of New Guinea. Moreover, anthropologists often overlook the significance of networks of political influence among females. The formal male-dominated institutions typical of some areas of high population density were not, for example, present in the same way in Oksapmin, West Sepik Province, a more sparsely populated area. Cultural patterns there were different from, say, Mt. Hagen. They were closer to those described by Mead.This became a major cornerstone of the feminist movement, since it claimed that females are dominant in the Tchambuli (now spelled Chambri) Lake region of the Sepik basin of Papua New Guinea (in the western Pacific) without causing any special problems. The lack of male dominance may have been the result of the Australian administration's outlawing of warfare. According to contemporary research, males are dominant throughout Melanesia (although some believe that female witches have special powers)
Mead stated that the Arapesh people, also in the Sepik, were pacifists, although she noted that they do on occasion engage in warfare. Her observations about the sharing of garden plots among the Arapesh, the egalitarian emphasis in child rearing, and her documentation of predominantly peaceful relations among relatives are very different from the "big man" displays of dominance that were documented in more stratified New Guinea cultures—e.g. by Andrew Strathern. They are a different cultural pattern.
In brief, her comparative study revealed a full range of contrasting gender roles:
Deborah Gewertz (1981) studied the Chambri (called Tchambuli by Mead) in 1974–1975 and found no evidence of such gender roles. Gewertz states that as far back in history as there is evidence (1850s) Chambri men dominated over the women, controlled their produce and made all important political decisions. In later years there has been a diligent search for societies in which women dominate men, or for signs of such past societies, but none have been found (Bamberger, 1974).Jessie Bernard criticised Mead's interpretations of her findings, arguing that Mead was biased in her descriptions due to use of subjective descriptions. Bernard argues that while Mead claimed the Mundugumor women were temperamentally identical to men, her reports indicate that there were in fact sex differences; Mundugumor women hazed each other less than men hazed each other, they made efforts to make themselves physically desirable to others, married women had fewer affairs than married men, women were not taught to use weapons, women were used less as hostages and Mundugumor men engaged in physical fights more often than women. Conversely, the Arapesh were also described as equal in temperament, yet Bernard states that Mead's own writings indicate that men fought physically over women, yet women did not fight physically over men, despite the two being supposedly equal in temperament. The Arapesh also seemed to have some conception of sex differences in temperament, as they would sometimes describe a woman as acting like a particularly quarrelsome man. Bernard also questioned if the behaviour of men and women in these societies differed as much from Western behaviour as Mead claimed it did, arguing that some of her descriptions could be equally descriptive of a Western context.
Despite its feminist roots, Mead's work on women and men was also criticized by Betty Friedan on the basis that it contributes to infantilizing women.
In 1926, there was much debate about race and intelligence. Mead felt the methodologies involved in the experimental psychology research supporting arguments of racial superiority in intelligence were substantially flawed. In "The Methodology of Racial Testing: Its Significance for Sociology" Mead proposes that there are three problems with testing for racial differences in intelligence. First, there are concerns with the ability to validly equate one's test score with what Mead refers to as racial admixture or how much Negro or Indian blood an individual possesses. She also considers whether this information is relevant when interpreting IQ scores. Mead remarks that a genealogical method could be considered valid if it could be "subjected to extensive verification". In addition, the experiment would need a steady control group to establish whether racial admixture was actually affecting intelligence scores. Next, Mead argues that it is difficult to measure the effect that social status has on the results of a person's intelligence test. By this she meant that environment (i.e., family structure, socioeconomic status, exposure to language) has too much influence on an individual to attribute inferior scores solely to a physical characteristic such as race. Lastly, Mead adds that language barriers sometimes create the biggest problem of all. Similarly, Stephen J. Gould finds three main problems with intelligence testing, in his 1981 book The Mismeasure of Man , that relate to Mead's view of the problem of determining whether there are indeed racial differences in intelligence.
In 1929 Mead and Fortune visited Manus, now the northern-most province of Papua New Guinea, travelling there by boat from Rabaul. She amply describes her stay there in her autobiography and it is mentioned in her 1984 biography by Jane Howard. On Manus she studied the Manus people of the south coast village of Peri. "Over the next five decades Mead would come back oftener to Peri than to any other field site of her career.
Mead has been credited with persuading the American Jewish Committee to sponsor a project to study European Jewish villages, shtetls , in which a team of researchers would conduct mass interviews with Jewish immigrants living in New York City. The resulting book, widely cited for decades, allegedly created the Jewish mother stereotype, a mother intensely loving but controlling to the point of smothering, and engendering guilt in her children through the suffering she professed to undertake for their sakes.
Mead worked for the RAND Corporation, a U.S. Air Force military funded private research organization, from 1948 to 1950 to study Russian culture and attitudes toward authority.
As an Anglican Christian, Mead played a considerable part in the drafting of the 1979 American Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. 347–348:
After her death, Mead's Samoan research was criticized by anthropologist Derek Freeman, who published a book that argued against many of Mead's conclusions.Freeman argued that Mead had misunderstood Samoan culture when she argued that Samoan culture did not place many restrictions on youths' sexual explorations. Freeman argued instead that Samoan culture prized female chastity and virginity and that Mead had been misled by her female Samoan informants. Freeman's critique was met with a considerable backlash and harsh criticism from the anthropology community, whereas it was received enthusiastically by communities of scientists who believed that sexual mores were more or less universal across cultures. Some anthropologists who studied Samoan culture argued in favor of Freeman's findings and contradicted those of Mead, whereas others argued that Freeman's work did not invalidate Mead's work because Samoan culture had been changed by the integration of Christianity in the decades between Mead's and Freeman's fieldwork periods. While Mead was careful to shield the identity of all her subjects for confidentiality Freeman was able to find and interview one of her original participants, and Freeman reported that she admitted to having wilfully misled Mead. She said that she and her friends were having fun with Mead and telling her stories.
On the whole, anthropologists have rejected the notion that Mead's conclusions rested on the validity of a single interview with a single person, finding instead that Mead based her conclusions on the sum of her observations and interviews during her time in Samoa, and that the status of the single interview did not falsify her work.Some anthropologists have however maintained that even though Freeman's critique was invalid, Mead's study was not sufficiently scientifically rigorous to support the conclusions she drew.
In her 2015 book Galileo's Middle Finger , Alice Dreger argues that Freeman's accusations were unfounded and misleading. A detailed review of the controversy by Paul Shankman, published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2009, supports the contention that Mead's research was essentially correct, and concludes that Freeman cherry-picked his data and misrepresented both Mead and Samoan culture.
In 1976, Mead was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
On January 19, 1979, President Jimmy Carter announced that he was awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to Mead. UN Ambassador Andrew Young presented the award to Mead's daughter at a special program honoring Mead's contributions, sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History, where she spent many years of her career. The citation read:
Margaret Mead was both a student of civilization and an exemplar of it. To a public of millions, she brought the central insight of cultural anthropology: that varying cultural patterns express an underlying human unity. She mastered her discipline, but she also transcended it. Intrepid, independent, plain spoken, fearless, she remains a model for the young and a teacher from whom all may learn.
In 1979, the Supersisters trading card set was produced and distributed; one of the cards featured Mead's name and picture.
The 2014 novel Euphoriaby Lily King is a fictionalized account of Mead's love/marital relationships with fellow anthropologists Reo Fortune and Gregory Bateson in pre-WWII New Guinea.
In addition, there are several schools named after Mead in the United States: a junior high school in Elk Grove Village, Illinois,an elementary school in Sammamish, Washington and another in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York.
The USPS issued a stamp of face value 32¢ on May 28, 1998, as part of the Celebrate the Century stamp sheet series.
In the 1967 musical Hair , her name is given to a tranvestite 'tourist' disturbing the show with the song 'My Conviction'.
Note: See also Margaret Mead: The Complete Bibliography 1925–1975 , Joan Gordan, ed., The Hague: Mouton.
Ruth Fulton Benedict was an American anthropologist and folklorist.
In anthropology, folkloristics, and the social and behavioral sciences, emic and etic refer to two kinds of field research done and viewpoints obtained: emic, from within the social group and etic, from outside.
Trance and Dance in Bali is a short documentary film shot by the anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson during their visits to Bali in the 1930s. The film was not released until 1952.
Gregory Bateson was an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, visual anthropologist, semiotician, and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other fields. His writings include Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972) and Mind and Nature (1979).
Mary Catherine Bateson is an American writer and cultural anthropologist.
Coming of Age in Samoa is a book by American anthropologist Margaret Mead based upon her research and study of youth – primarily adolescent girls – on the island of Ta'u in the Samoan Islands. The book details the sexual life of teenagers in Samoan society in the early 20th century, and theorizes that culture has a leading influence on psychosexual development.
Chambri are an ethnic group in the Chambri Lakes region in the East Sepik province of Papua New Guinea. The social structures of Chambri society have often been a subject in the study of gender roles. The Chambri language is spoken by them.
The sociology of jealousy deals with cultural and social factors that influence what causes jealousy, how jealousy is expressed, and how attitudes toward jealousy change over time.
Feminist anthropology is a four-field approach to anthropology that seeks to transform research findings, anthropological hiring practices, and the scholarly production of knowledge, using insights from feminist theory. Simultaneously, feminist anthropology challenges essentialist feminist theories developed in Europe and America. While feminists practiced cultural anthropology since its inception, it was not until the 1970s that feminist anthropology was formally recognized as a subdiscipline of anthropology. Since then, it has developed its own subsection of the American Anthropological Association – the Association for Feminist Anthropology – and its own publication, Feminist Anthropology. Their former journal Voices is now defunct.
John Derek Freeman was a New Zealand anthropologist known for his criticism of Margaret Mead's work on Samoan society, as described in her 1928 ethnography Coming of Age in Samoa. His attack "ignited controversy of a scale, visibility, and ferocity never before seen in anthropology."
Donald F. Tuzin was an American social anthropologist best known for his ethnographic work on the Ilahita Arapesh, a horticultural people living in northeast lowland New Guinea, and for comparative studies of gender and sexuality within Melanesia. Tuzin was born in Chicago, Illinois, grew up in Winona, Minnesota, and spent his teen years again in Chicago. He received his B.A. from Western Reserve University in Ohio, where he became interested in anthropology and participated in the excavation of Native American archaeological sites left by the Mound Builders. He also received his master's degree from Case Western Reserve.
Elsie Worthington Clews Parsons was an American anthropologist, sociologist, folklorist, and feminist who studied Native American tribes—such as the Tewa and Hopi—in Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico. She helped found The New School. She was associate editor for The Journal of American Folklore (1918–1941), president of the American Folklore Society (1919–1920), president of the American Ethnological Society (1923–1925), and was elected the first female president of the American Anthropological Association (1941) right before her death.
Reo Franklin Fortune was a New Zealand-born social anthropologist. Originally trained as a psychologist, Fortune was a student of the major theorists of British and American social anthropology including Alfred Cort Haddon, Bronislaw Malinowski and Alfred Radcliffe-Brown. He lived an international life, holding various academic and government positions in China, the United States, Canada, Burma, and finally, in the United Kingdom as lecturer in social anthropology at Cambridge University from 1947 to 1971, as a specialist in Melanesian language and culture.
Vaitogi is a village in American Samoa. It has many missionaries and tourists who are attracted by shopping for local products. Vaitogi might be most famous of its legends about the Turtle and Shark. It is said that once, at a time when food was scarce, an old woman took her granddaughter to the bluff at Vaitogi, and holding hands, they leaped into the sea down below. While the young girl was transformed into a shark, the blind grandmother became a turtle. It gives its name to a local U-shaped cove in town, which was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2014.
This is an English language bibliography of American Samoa and its geography, history, inhabitants, culture, biota, etc.
Tales of the Cochiti Indians is a 1931 work by Ruth Benedict. It collects the folk tales of the Cochiti Puebloan peoples in New Mexico. The book is considered an important work in the discipline of feminist anthropology. Following development of the "culture and personality" school of anthropology by her colleague Edward Sapir and influenced by Margaret Mead, Benedict sought psychological patterns in the stories she collected.
Tui Manu'a Matelita, born Margaret Young, and also known as Makelita, Matelika or Lika was the Tui Manu'a from 1891 to 1895. She ruled over Manu'a, a group of islands in the eastern part of the Samoan Islands. During her tenure, she served largely a ceremonial role at her residence on Ta'ū where she received British writer Robert Louis Stevenson. Matelita never married because she would not marry any of the eligible native chieftains and no other men were regarded as having the proper rank to marry her. She died of illness in 1895 although later reports claimed she died by a more violent means. She was buried in the Tui Manu'a Graves Monument.
Melvin Lawrence Ember was an American cultural anthropologist and cross-cultural researcher with wide-ranging interests who combined an active research career with writing for nonprofessionals.
Ruth Leah Bunzel was an American anthropologist, known for studying creativity and art among the Zuni people (A:Shiwi), researching the Mayas in Guatemala, and conducting a comparative study of alcoholism in Guatemala and Mexico. Bunzel was one of the first anthropologists to study the creative process, and she was the first American anthropologist to conduct substantial research in Guatemala. Her doctoral dissertation, The Pueblo Potter (1929) was a study of the creative process of art in anthropology and Bunzel was one of the first anthropologists to study the creative process.
Oedipus in the Trobriands is a 1982 book about the Oedipus complex by the anthropologist Melford Spiro, in which the author criticizes the research of the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski on the Trobriand Islanders. The work received positive reviews, and Spiro's criticism of Malinowski was compared to Derek Freeman's criticism of Margaret Mead in Margaret Mead and Samoa (1983).
margaret mead RAND corporation.
Roger Fox, Professor of Anthropology, Rutgers: '[What Freeman did was to] attack the goddess ... she couldn't be wrong because if she was wrong then the doctrine was wrong and the whole liberal humanitarian scheme was wrong'
Marc Swartz, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego: "one of the leading anthropologists came out immediately after Derek's book was out and said I haven't read the book but I know he's wrong"
Anthropologists Richard Goodman and Tim Omera talk about their work in Samoa and how it supports Freeman's findings
We girls would pinch each other and tell her we were out with the boys. We were only joking but she took it seriously. As you know, Samoan girls are terrific liars and love making fun of people, but Margaret thought it was all true.
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