Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth

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Australian National University Press, 1983 - Adolescence - 379 pages
The author presents his views refuting Margaret Meads̕ classic work on adolescence and sexuality in Samoa.

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About the author (1983)

Derek Freeman, 1917 - 2001 Derek Freeman was born in 1917 in New Zealand, and from a very young age was interested in anthropology, tantalized by Margaret Mead's sojurns to Samoa. In 1940, Freeman traveled to Samoa and lived among the natives for three years where he taught and studied the culture. It was during this first trip, that Freeman began to doubt whether Mead's original research was in fact accurate. The Samoans he encountered did not resemble at all the culture that she had described. He continued his education with two years of graduate study on Samoa at London University, and then spending three years among the Iban of Borneo. He then spent two years at Cambridge University, earning his doctorate degree form there in 1953. In 1954, Freeman accepted a position as a senior lecturer in anthropology at the Australian National University, progressing to emeritus professor, where he continued to wonder at how Mead had reached her conclusions on the Samoans. He spent almost 40 years researching Asian and Pacific people, spending six years in Samoa and compiling a document stating the exact opposite of Margaret Mead's findings. He presented his document, "The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth," in 1983, five years after Mead's death, and was met with instant outrage and denial. Freeman stated that Mead's finding were inadequate from lack of preparation and a poor command of the Samoan language. This stand defied the school of American anthropological thought and met staunch disapproval there. Incidentally, Freeman did try to publish his dissertation while Mead was still alive but was rejected. Eventually, Freeman's ideas have come to be accepted and helped to modernize anthropology. Derek Freeman died on July 6, 2001 at the age of 84 from congestive heart failure.

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