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Margaret Mead: The Study of Contemporary Western Culture
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And Keep Your Powder Dry
An Anthropologist Looks at America
Introduction by Hervé Varenne
256 pages, bibliog.
ISBN 978-1-57181-217-9 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (July 2000)
ISBN 978-1-57181-218-6 $27.95/£22.95 Pb Published (July 2000)
eISBN 978-1-78238-474-8 eBook
Margaret Mead wrote this comprehensive sketch of the culture of the United States - the first since de Tocqueville - in 1942 at the beginnning of the Second World War, when Americans were confronted by foreign powers from both Europe and Asia in a particularly challenging manner. Mead's work became an instant classic. It was required reading for anthropology students for nearly two decades, and was widely translated. It was revised and expanded in 1965 for a second generation of readers. Among the more controversial conclusions of her analysis are the denial of class as a motivating force in American culture, and her contention that culture is the primary determinant for individual character formation. Her process remains lucid, vivid, and arresting. As a classic study of a complex western society, it remains a monument to anthropological analysis.
Margaret Mead served as Curator of Ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History from 1925 to 1969. She began her career with a study of youth and adolescence in Samoan society, published as Coming of Age in Samoa (1928). She published prolifically, becoming a seminal figure in anthropology, and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1979.