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Margaret Mead and Samoa

The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth

Derek Freeman


Harvard University Press

Cette page est une ébauche qui sera progressivement complétée

Posté le 17 mai 2008
Dernière modification le 3 juin 2008

Quatrième de couverture

Niko Tinbergen :

“A reluctantly but honestly and uncompromisingly written refutation of Margaret Mead’s youthful claim that her work on Samoan adolescents was a perfect ‘negative instance’… supporting Boas’s ‘cultural determinism’… A masterly treatise, leading up to a glimpse of modern multidisciplinary anthropology.”

John Pfeiffer:

“A major work, an intense critique, exciting and absorbing at many levels, of a grand human being and a grand illusion and the continuing effort to understand the human condition. This is research with passion, involving ambitions and frustrations, bruised and burgeoning egos, in a field noted for vendettas and polemics. We all share Freeman’s hope that his unrelenting analysis may mark a turning point in the study of the human species – the coming of age of anthropology.”

Ernst Mayr :

“Since Mead’s work has always been considered the most convincing documentation for cultural determinism, Freeman’s unmaking of the Samoan ‘myth’ opens the way for a more balanced approach toward the interpretation of the interaction between biological and cultural inheritance in the shaping of human psychology. This work, therefore, is not only a contribution to cultural anthropology, but it will also have a major impact on psychology and other aspects of human biology. It necessitates a careful rethinking of some of the most basic problems in all these fields.”

Bruce Mazlish :

“An extraordinary book! It reads like a detective story, as Freeman quietly but devastatingly shows us how and why the great Margaret Mead perpetrated a myth about Samoa’s untroubled and free-loving adolescents. Must reading for anyone concerned with man, personality, and culture, the nature-nurture controversy, and the nature of scientific inquiry.”

Ashley montagu

“In critically examining Margaret Mead’s famous book Freeman has told the story of an Age —the Age of Cultural Determinism. The corrective this book provides to that view of the world is fascinatingly told, a cautionary tale which is bound to have the most salutary effects.”

Table des matières


I – The Emergence of Cultural Determinism

1 – Galton, Eugenics, and Biological Determinism

2 – Boas and the Distinction between Culture and Heredity

3 – The Launching of Cultural Determinism

4 – Boas Poses an Intractable Problem

II – Mead’s Samoan Research

5 – Mead Presents Boas with an Absolute Answer


6 – Mead’s Depiction of the Samoans

7 – The Myth Takes Shape

III – A Refutation of Mead’s Conclusions

8 – The Historical Setting of Mead’s Research

9 – Rank

10 – Cooperation and Competition

11 – Aggressive Behavior and Warfare

12 – Religion: Pagan and Christian

13 – Punishment

14 – Childrearing

15 – Samoan Character

16 – Sexual Mores and Behavior

17 – Adolescence

18 – The Samoan Ethos

IV – Margaret Mead and the Boasian Paradigm

19 – Mead’s Misconstruing of Samoa

20 – Toward a More Scientific Anthropological Paradigm

A Note on Orthography and Pronunciation

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