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The fateful hoaxing of Margaret Mead : a historical analysis of her Samoan research

Author: Derek Freeman
Publisher: Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, 1999.
Edition/Format:   Book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
For most of the twentieth century, Margaret Mead's renowned book, Coming of Age in Samoa, has validated an antievolutionary anthropological paradigm that assumes that culture is the overwhelming determinant of human behavior. Her account of female adolescent sexuality in Samoa initiated a career that led to Margaret Mead becoming "indisputably the most publicly celebrated scientist in America." But what if her study  Read more...
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Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Freeman, Derek.
Fateful hoaxing of Margaret Mead.
Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, 1999
(OCoLC)607093970
Online version:
Freeman, Derek.
Fateful hoaxing of Margaret Mead.
Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, 1999
(OCoLC)607892624
Named Person: Margaret Mead; Margaret Mead; Margaret Mead; Margaret Mead
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Derek Freeman
ISBN: 0813335604 9780813335605 0813336937 9780813336930
OCLC Number: 39223702
Description: xi, 279 p. : ill., map ; 23 cm.
Contents: 1. Franz Boas: The "Incorrigible Idealist" --
2. At Barnard: Studying with Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict --
3. Funding the Samoan Research Project: A National Research Fellowship --
4. Professional Researcher Status: A Bishop Museum Associate in Ethnology --
5. In Honolulu: At the Bishop Museum --
6. At the U.S. Naval Station, Tutuila, American Samoa --
7. Ethnological Research in Pago Pago and Vaitogi --
8. In Manu'a: The First Two Months --
9. In Manu'a: After the Hurricane --
10. In Fitiuta: "A Gold Mine, Ethnologically" --
11. The Ides of March --
12. Mead's Samoan Fieldwork in Retrospect --
13. From Pago Pago to New York: Via Paris, London, and Rome --
14. Coming of Age in Samoa and Boasian Culturalism --
15. The Mythic Process
Responsibility: Derek Freeman.
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Abstract:

For most of the twentieth century, Margaret Mead's renowned book, Coming of Age in Samoa, has validated an antievolutionary anthropological paradigm that assumes that culture is the overwhelming determinant of human behavior. Her account of female adolescent sexuality in Samoa initiated a career that led to Margaret Mead becoming "indisputably the most publicly celebrated scientist in America." But what if her study wasn't all it appeared to be? What if, having neglected the problem she had been sent to investigate, she relied at the last moment on the tales of two traveling companions who jokingly misled her about the sexual behavior of Samoan girls? What if her famous study was based on a hoax? In The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead, Derek Freeman addresses these issues in a detailed historical analysis of Margaret Mead's Samoan research and of her training in New York by Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict. By examining hitherto unpublished correspondence between Mead; her mentor, Franz Boas; and others - as well as the sworn testimony of Fa'apua'a Fa'amu, one of Mead's traveling companions of 1926 - Freeman provides compelling evidence that one of the most influential anthropological studies of the twentieth century was unwittingly based on the mischievous joking of the investigator's informants. The book is more than a correction of scientific error: It is a crucial step toward rethinking the foundations of social science and the overly relativistic worldview of much of the modern world.

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