Mumun Linahyan

As a child, I read a series of books on famous American and European people — Louis Pasteur was one of them, and Margaret Mead was another.  Although Mead’s early work was focused on sexuality, I remember that the book skipped carefully around the topic and emphasized her interest in allowing children to develop and grow at their own pace.  The book on Pasteur, with a graphic illustration of the transmission of rabies from a dog to a child, was far more striking.

Mead had a storied career in anthropology and strong influence on generations of Americans.  She is still highly regarded today; Derek Freeman’s attempt to critique Mead’s methodology and what he described more or less as her gullibility has received fierce attacks.  What should primarily be critiqued, however — and has been critiqued from several different perspectives — is Mead’s problematic assumption that she could speak for Samoan culture…

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