The Case of Mead's Samoa
Department (Manual Entry)
Dept. of Anthropology
A survey of 118 introductory anthropology textbooks published in the period 1929-1990 examines the ways in which Margaret Mead's Coming of Age in Samoa has been presented to college undergraduates. In contrast to Derek Freeman's claim that her conclusions about Samoan sexuality and adolescence have been reiterated (approvingly) in an "unbroken succesion of anthropological textbooks," it appears that this work has been ignored almost as often as it has been cited. Criticesms of Mead, although relatively few and almost entirely methodological, have also been incorporated into texstbooks, both before and following Freeeman's 1983 book, Margaret Mead and Samoa. Whether or not Mead has been a "holy woman" in American cultural anthropology, Coming of Age in Samoa does not appear to have been a "sacred text."
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Hays, T. E. (1997). Sacred texts and introductory texts: The case of Mead's Samoa. Pacific Studies, 20(3), 81-103.