Mead, Margaret

Mead, Margaret

biographical name

(born Dec. 16, 1901, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.—died Nov. 15, 1978, New York, N.Y.) U.S. anthropologist. She studied under Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict at Columbia University and did fieldwork in Samoa before completing her Ph.D. (1929). The first and most famous of her 23 books, Coming of Age in Samoa (1928), presents evidence in support of cultural determinism with respect to the formation of personality or temperament. Her other books include Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies (1935), Male and Female (1949), and Culture and Commitment (1970). Her theories caused later 20th-century anthropologists to question both the accuracy of her observations and the soundness of her conclusions. In her later years she became a prominent voice on such wide-ranging issues as women's rights and nuclear proliferation, and her great fame owed as much to the force of her personality and her outspokenness as to the quality of her scientific work. She served in curatorial positions at the American Museum of Natural History for over 50 years.

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