Influential works of scientific racism, ranked

I appreciate that the list includes "Coming of Age in Samoa", reminding us that the "noble savage" is every bit as problematic as the "savage".

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  1. Wasn't CoAiS also problematic for reasons other than 'noble savageism' (savageage?) ? Like wasn't Mead taken in by more than a few shaggy dog stories provided by the population who - being rather more sophisticated than she gave 'em credit for - were basically just "'avin' a larf"? Or was that some other anthropological opus? Or every?

  2. Yes, thanks for that, Maggie. An especially relevant point these days.

  3. I don't remember for certain about that. I know (and the piece I linked talks about) her kind of assigning a broad culture to all of Samoa, and flattening out differences between groups so that it better fit her thesis.

    What you're talking about has DEFINITELY happened to anthropologists, though. I remember learning about in school, but I'm not able to connect the general idea to specific incidents off the top of my head. Sometimes it was as a deliberate joke and sometimes, though, it was more about traditions in how you talk to outsiders. I seem to remember a situation where there was a cultural understanding of generally being agreeable with strangers to the point that the anthropologist got a "oh, yeah we do that" to just about every question he asked. Imagine interviewing a bunch of Minnesotans. Like that.

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