An Anthropologist at Work: Writings of Ruth Benedict

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Greenwood Press, 1966 - Social Science - 583 pages
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The product of a long collaboration between two distinguished anthropologists, Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead, who was Benedict's pupil, colleague, and finally, literary executor and biographer.

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Contents

19201930 by Margaret Mead
3
The Vision in Plains Culture
18
A Matter for the Field Worker in Folklore
36
Copyright

28 other sections not shown

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About the author (1966)

Born in New York City, American anthropologist Ruth Benedict was educated at Vassar College and at Columbia University (Ph.D 1923) where she as a student of Franz Boas. Benedict taught English literature before turning to the social sciences. For several years Benedict taught at Columbia, where she was made a professor in 1948. Most of Benedict's fieldwork was with American Indians, and the two books that brought her fame-Patterns of Culture (1934) and The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (1946)-are largely about cultures that she knew only secondhand. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword is a brilliant reconstruction of Japanese culture on the basis of wartime interviews with Japanese people who had been living in the United States for several decades, but it has been criticized for describing nearly dead patterns of Japanese social behavior. Benedict helped expand the scope of anthropology to include the importance of the role of culture.

Margaret Mead, an American anthropologist, was for most of her life the most illustrious curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. She was famed not only as an anthropologist but also as a public figure, a popularizer of the social sciences, and an analyst of American society. While at Columbia University, she was a student of Franz Boas, whose teaching assistant, Ruth Benedict, became one of Mead's closest colleagues and friends; after Benedict's death, Mead became her first biographer and the custodian of her field notes and papers. Mead's early research in Samoa led to her best selling book, "Coming of Age in Samoa" (1928); it also led, after her death, to a well-publicized attack on her work by the Australian anthropologist Derek Freeman. Her importance was not damaged by his book; in fact, there is probably a greater awareness today of the important role that she played in twentieth-century intellectual history as an advocate of tolerance, education, civil liberties, world peace, and the worldwide ecumenical movement within Christianity. She was an active and devout Episcopalian throughout her life. On January 6, 1979, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

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