Letters from the Field, 1925-1975

Overview

Margaret Mead was famous for keeping in touch with a wide circle of friends as we see in this collection of wonderfully revealing correspondence from the field. Written over a period of half a century, these letters to friends, family, and colleagues detail her first fieldwork in Samoa and go on to record her now famous anthropological endeavors in mainland New Guinea, the Admiralty Islands, and Bali. Enhanced by photographs, these intelligent, vivid, frequently funny, and often poetic letters tell us much about ...

See more details below
Paperback (1ST PERENN)
$14.40
BN.com price
(Save 9%)$15.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (37) from $1.99   
  • New (11) from $2.09   
  • Used (26) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

Margaret Mead was famous for keeping in touch with a wide circle of friends as we see in this collection of wonderfully revealing correspondence from the field. Written over a period of half a century, these letters to friends, family, and colleagues detail her first fieldwork in Samoa and go on to record her now famous anthropological endeavors in mainland New Guinea, the Admiralty Islands, and Bali. Enhanced by photographs, these intelligent, vivid, frequently funny, and often poetic letters tell us much about Mead's passion for and understanding of preliterate cultures. But they are equally valuable as a fundamental text on the science — and art — of anthropology. This edition, prepared for the centennial of Mead's birth, features introductions by Jan Morris and Mead's daughter. Mary Catherine Bateson.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060958046
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Series: Harper Perennial
  • Edition description: 1ST PERENN
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,428,911
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret Mead (1901-1978) began her remarkable career when she visited Samoa at the age of twenty-three, which led to her first book, Coming of Age in Samoa. She went on to become one of the most influential women of our time, publishing some forty works and serving as Curator of Ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History as well as president of major scientific associations. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom following her death in 1978.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



Introduction



These letters from the field are one record, a very personal record, of what it has meant to be a practicing anthropologist over the last fifty years.

Field work is only one aspect of any anthropologist's experience and the circumstances of field work — the particular circumstances of any one occasion — are never twice the same nor can they ever be alike for two fieldworkers. Yet field work — the unique, but also cumulative, experience of immersing oneself in the ongoing life of another people, suspending for the time both one's beliefs and disbeliefs, and of simultaneously attempting to understand mentally and physically this other version of reality — is crucial in the formation of every anthropologist and in the development of a body of anthropological theory. Field work has provided the living stuff out of which anthropology has developed as a science and which distinguishes this from all other sciences.

Field work is, of course, very ancient, in the sense that curious travelers, explorers and naturalists have gone far afield to find and bring home accounts of strange places, unfamiliar forms of plant and animal life and the ways of exotic peoples. Ancient records refer to the unusual behavior of strangers, and for thousands of years artists have attempted to capture some living aspects of the peoples and creatures evoked in travelers' tales or the sacred mythology of some distant, little-known people. A generation ago students still were given Greek and Latin texts through which they not onlylearned about high civilizations ancestral to our own but also gained a view of exotic peoples as they were described by Greeks and Romans in their own era. In fact, generation after generation, philosophers and educators, historians and naturalists, polemicists and revolutionaries, as well as poets and artists and storytellers, have drawn on the accounts of peoples who seemed more idyllic or more savage or more complexly civilized than themselves.

But only in this century have we attempted systematically to explore and comprehend the nature of the relationship between the observer and that which is observed, whether it is a star, a microscopic particle, an ant hill, a learning animal, a physical experiment or some human group isolated for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years from the mainstream of the world's history as we know it. Throughout my lifetime the implications of the inclusion of the observer within the circle of relevance have enormously widened and deepened. Einstein lectured at Columbia University while I was an undergraduate at Barnard. I read Erwin Schrödinger's Science and the Human Temperament when it appeared in English in 1935. And of course I belong to the generation of those who learned from Freud that observers of human behavior must become aware of how they themselves have become persons and respond to those whom they are observing or treating. This kind of consciousness was systematized in psychoanalytic theory and practice as transference and counter-transference; analysts, attending intensively to the slightest change in the rhythm of their analysands' speech or movement, learned to attend at the same time to their own flow of imagery and to grasp the relationship between the two.

As these insights became widely known and were incorporated in scientific thought and practice, a counter-tendency also developed among certain scientists concerned with the study of human behavior. Having discovered how deeply the observer is involved in what is observed, they made new efforts to ensure objectivity and to systematize methods of observation that would minimize the effect of observer bias. Sophisticated statistical methods were developed that effectively eliminate the individual observation as well as the individual observer. Experiments were devised using double-blind methods and observers were given formal check lists on which to note, for example, the behavior of infants in such ways that no hint of intuitive response would be preserved in the records that eventually saw the light of day.

In the natural sciences students were carefully trained to cast every experiment within a rigid framework that controlled the development of hypotheses, the use of methods of recording and analysis and the limits of the conclusions — a style of research recording that for a long time almost completely disguised the actual complexities of scientific advance under a mask of uniform orderliness. Following this precedent, social scientists elaborated the paraphernalia of objective social science. Their methods, identified as "science," were pitted against what were called "impressionistic" methods, in which the records of the human observer were presented without the sanitizing operations which appeared to remove the observer from the scene.

In this conflict between those who attempted to mechanize the intelligence and skills of the observer and those who tried to make the most of the idiosyncratic skills and intuitions of the observer, by enlarging and deepening the observer's self-awareness, anthropologists occupied a middle ground.

We were slowly devising ways in which our reports on the culture of a primitive people could be made objective in the sense that another fieldworker, comparably trained, might be expected to elicit the same order of data from members of the same culture. This was particularly the case in linguistics, since methods of standardized phonetic recording can be used to reproduce the regularities of an unwritten language in such a way that the data can be analyzed and used for comparative purposes by other linguists. In this work the sensitivities of the individual human ear are fully enlisted, both the ear of the native speaker of the language to whom the field linguist must present alternative sound sequences and the ear of the fieldworker who writes down the language. Today this can be supplemented by tape recordings of the process, which allow another listener to hear and compare.

With less initial precision — for language has the special advantage of being coded by speaker and listener in the same way — cultural anthropologists learned to record the kinship usages of a people by fitting the terms to the biological phenomena...

Letters from the Field, 1925-1975. Copyright © by Margaret Mead. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Illustrations ix
Words for a New Century xv
Introduction to the Perennial Edition xix
Introduction 1
Part 1 Samoa, 1925-1926 19
Part 2 Pere Village, Manus, Admiralty Islands, 1928-1929 63
Part 3 Omaha Reservation, summer 1930 99
Part 4 New Guinea--Arapesh, Mundugumor and Tchambuli, 1931-1933 105
Part 5 Bali and Iatmul, New Guinea, 1936-1939 161
Part 6 Return to Manus, 1953 255
Part 7 Field visits in a changing world, 1964-1975 283
Appendix A Note on Orthography and My Use of Native Languages 351
References and Selected Bibliography 353
Epilogue: World Perspectives 359
Acknowledgments 373
Index 375
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)