Mead Publishes Coming of Age in Samoa (Great Events from History II: Science and Technology Series)
Article abstract: With the publication of her very successful book, Mead popularized the field of cultural anthropology.
Summary of Event
Franz Boas, Margaret Mead’s mentor, published his landmark book, The Mind of Primitive Man, in 1911, which freed anthropology from the stigma of racism. Before that time, there were “higher” and “lower” races rated on a scale of intellectual capacity. Boas’ book was the cornerstone of a new view of humans and led to the controversy between two schools of thought in anthropology, which is sometimes dubbed the “nature versus nurture” debate. Those on the side of “nature” contended that there were innate racial differences that accounted for differences in individual intellectual abilities, whereas those on the side of “nurture” (Boas’ followers) argued that the abilities of members of the human species often differed because of cultural differences in their upbringing, as well as differences in their heredity. Boas believed that there was a need to study this problem so as to determine the relationship between the hereditary factors and the environmental factors.
Margaret Mead was only twenty-three years old when she set out on her great adventure to the South Seas, where she hoped to salvage what remained of primitive cultures before they disappeared forever. In her autobiography, Blackberry Winter, Mead described her thoughts as...
(The entire section is 1705 words.)
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