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The Nature of Anthropological
Case Study: Margaret Mead
Who is Margaret Mead?
Biographical notes:
Contributions to anthropology and
Her contributions on the
writing of culture:
Anthropologists as an author
Ethnographic form and content
The anthropologists as a writer
As the dawn begging to fall among
the soft brown roofs and the slender
palm trees stand out against a
colourless, gleaming sea, lovers slip
home from trysts beneath the palm
trees or in the shadow of beached
canoes. The light may find each
sleeper in his appointed place” (14)
Culture and personality
Psychological Anthropology: The notion that
suggests that psychological dimensions in human
beings are essential components of culture and
human behaviour.
Edward Sapir (1920’s)
Abram Kardinar (1930’s)
Ruth Benedict (1920, 30’s)
Margaret Mead (1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s
and 1970’s)
Feminist critique
Was it a good thing for women?
What about power relations and
Cultural relativism/tolerance:
Emphasizing difference
Derek Freeman controversy
In his 1983 article “Margaret Mead
and Samoa; the making and
Unmaking of an Anthropological
Myth.” Cambridge MA: Harvard
University Press
Discussion questions
What do we learn from this
Was Margaret Mead, and the entire
anthropological profession, being
unscientific and irresponsible by
presenting a politically motivated
image of Samoa that was clearly
false? On the other hand, was Mead