Samoan Rainbow. "Anthropologists In Search Of A Culture: Margaret Mead, Derek Freeman, And All The Rest Of Us". The Controversy Between Anthropologists Mead And Freeman.

1550 words - 6 pages

Samoan Rainbow"Truth is merely common sense, say the naïve realist. Really? Then where, precisely, is the location of - a rainbow? In the air? In the eye? In between? Or somewhere else?" (Abbey, 11). To define the nature of culture it seems at first, to be a simple task. However, finding and holding the true essence of a culture is like pinpointing Abbey's rainbow. It becomes clear to me the misunderstandings between Margaret Mead and Derek Freeman, they were both trying to pinpoint a rainbow, but not necessarily the same rainbow. "Anthropologists in Search of a Culture: Margaret Mead, Derek Freeman, and All the Rest of us", is an article searching for answers, answers to a mystery that appears to need a detective of Sherlock Holmes caliber to unlock.Margaret Mead went to Samoa at the age of twenty-three in the 1920's. She stayed for nine months observing young girls of a village on the eastern part of the islands. She was trying to gain knowledge for the culture vs. biology debate, which is, in itself, another great mystery. Mead showed, from evidence gathered, culture influences the life cycle of a person not biology. She proves this by showing how adolescent girls of Samoa deal with maturing differently then girls of a western culture. Derek Freeman, after visiting Samoa some thirty years later felt that Margaret Mead's conclusions do not fit at all with what he observed. Thus, the controversy began. A deluge of papers on the topic appears, trying to sort out the mystery. Eleanor Leacock decided to take the opportunity and "put on her applied-anthropology hat..." (Leacock, 3). However, although Leacock is dealing with the Mead-Freeman controversy, she is actually dealing with how one should go about studying cultures.Leacock agrees with Mead much more then Freeman, shooting down many of Freeman's points. She says, he ignored the culture changes that took place between his and Mead's observation, he misinterpreted the Mead-Boas relationship, he was on a different island observing different people, he cites criticisms made by Holmes ignoring the fact that Holmes believes the Mead's study was generally sound and his criticisms were harsh, one sided and an insulting description of Samoan culture. He did exactly what he was accusing Margaret Mead of doing, only from the opposite position. That is not acknowledging all of the observations and making conclusions based on a limited view. What is worse is the fact that he chose not to acknowledge the differences in Samoan culture in the 20's and in the 60's (Leacock, 10).Culture, especially during a time of introduction to Western ideas, is going to change. Freeman ignores this and believes all of the differences he observes from that which was described in Mead's book were inconsistencies on Mead's part. Essentially what he is doing was talking to people of my generation about the people and culture of my grandparents' generation. There is no way I know how it really was, I know what I have been...

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