By Paul Shankman

In 1928 Margaret Mead released Coming of Age in Samoa, a desirable learn of the lives of adolescent women that reworked Mead herself into an instructional star. In 1983 anthropologist Derek Freeman released a scathing critique of Mead’s Samoan learn, badly harmful her acceptance. Resonating past educational circles, his case opposed to Mead tapped into very important public issues of the Eighties, together with sexual permissiveness, cultural relativism, and the nature/nurture debate. In venues from the New York Times to the television express Donahue, Freeman argued that Mead were “hoaxed” by means of Samoans whose blameless lies she took at face value.
    In The Trashing of Margaret Mead, Paul Shankman explores the various dimensions of the Mead-Freeman controversy because it constructed publicly and because it performed out privately, together with the non-public relationships, expert rivalries, and larger-than-life personalities that drove it. offering a serious point of view on Freeman’s arguments, Shankman stories key questions about Samoan sexuality, the alleged hoaxing of Mead, and the that means of the talk. Why have been Freeman’s arguments so with ease permitted via pundits open air the sphere of anthropology? What did Samoans themselves imagine? Can Mead’s popularity be salvaged from the quicksand of controversy? Written in an attractive, transparent sort and in response to a cautious assessment of the facts, The Trashing of Margaret Mead illuminates questions of putting up with value to the academy and beyond.
2010 unusual Lecturer in Anthropology on the American Museum of traditional History
The Trashing of Margaret Mead reminds readers of the pitfalls of academia. It urges students to prevent own assaults and to have interaction in fit debate. The e-book redeems Mead whereas additionally redeeming the sphere of anthropology. via displaying the individuality of the Mead-Freeman case, Shankman locations his persisted self belief in academia, students, and the sector of anthropology.”—H-Net Reviews

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Freeman didn't suggest to utter those phrases; it was once a Freudian slip: “I don’t be aware of why I acknowledged that. i used to be mortified after I stated it. ”12 but those phrases spoke volumes approximately Freeman’s symbolic courting with Mead. thirteen in fact, Freeman didn't actually think Mead as a seductress. on the time in their assembly she used to be sixty-two and grandmotherly and had a actual incapacity that required her to take advantage of a employees for jogging. As Freeman saw, “She dressed frumpishly. She had no attract approximately her. ”14 Freeman himself used to be fourteen years her junior, good over a foot taller than Mead, and in reliable actual situation, having a health and wellbeing and health routine. yet on one other point Freeman seen Mead as having a strong presence. As he remembered, “She may well forged a spell. . . . [S]he definitely mesmerized me. ”15 Freeman’s imagery of Mead concerned her strength over males. He said, “Mead was once referred to as a castrator; she went for males and positioned them down. She additionally had this [sexual] attractiveness [and] i used to be unlikely to be bullied through her. ”16 He repeated this cost in different places, declaring, “She used to be an outstanding castrator of guys. She had large energy. She did this type of schoolmarm factor. I suggest, there have been plenty of circumstances the place she could intrude in an appointment and communicate opposed to you and also you wouldn’t get promoted or you’d lose your task, and the folks have been fairly terrified of her. I thankfully was once outdoors that procedure, so i may withstand her thoroughly. ”17 Freeman’s notion of Mead is just a little confusing. of their deepest assembly it was once Freeman who had forcefully critiqued her paintings and advised her there has been extra to return. He was once within the driver’s seat and had posed a problem if now not an instantaneous danger to her; but he imagined himself as a possible sufferer of Mead, a robust and bullying girl who brought on him to stutter and whose spell he needed to face up to. Mead’s request for his unpublished thesis had develop into a try of his manhood. even though Freeman had made his issues with Mead of their inner most Psychoanalysis, Freeman, and Mead sixty one assembly, he appeared to think that she had victimized him there and in her public seminar. in a single of Freeman’s debts of the seminar he famous that everybody had laughed at his comment approximately Mead spending the evening with him, and that was once the top of it. He could write an apology, pointing out, “I could a great deal desire that, besides the fact that we disagree, there might be no undesirable feeling among us. you may have my coverage that I shall attempt in the direction of this finish. ” Freeman quoted Mead as responding, “What is necessary is the paintings. ”18 Their dating was once therefore expert if now not amicable. yet in a moment account of the seminar, Freeman stated that he and Mead turned concerned with a really heated public alternate. As he remembered, “There used to be loads of rigidity. ”19 The argument was once in regards to the worth on virginity in Samoa, with Freeman forcefully contending that the “sacrosanct” defloration of ceremonial virgins used to be a vital point in Samoan tradition in the course of his fieldwork within the Nineteen Forties. Mead spoke back that in her paintings within the Twenties this was once now not the case, simply because ceremonial deflorations, for the main half, had ceased to exist.

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