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Arguably one of the most prolific and influential anthropologists of the 20th century, Margaret Mead undertook her first field expedition in 1925 and was still publishing as late as 1975, a few years before her death. Her first field expedition to Samoa, between 1925 and 1926, resulted in a trove of materials focusing on child-rearing practice and gender roles in Samoa, as well as the widely read and critiqued ethnography, "Coming of Age in Samoa". Mead returned to the field a few years later, conducting joint research with Reo Fortune in Papua New Guinea, between 1928 and 1929, and again between 1931 and 1932. Soon after, she published "Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies". The Papers contain Mead's field notebooks, draft manuscripts and other materials leading to the publication of these two seminal ethnographies.
Victor Turner and Edith Turner’s fieldwork with the Ndembu in the former Northern Rhodesia led to foundational theoretical writings on work on symbols, rites of passage and ritual, which gave rise to concepts such as liminality, a state of being “in between” through which individuals pass at transitional periods of life often bounded by rituals or rites of passage. The Victor Turner Papers include field notes, field photos and early manuscript drafts from the Turners’ research in the former Northern Rhodesia with the Ndembu between 1950 and 1954, as well as lectures, articles and draft manuscripts that subsequently followed.
Bronislaw Malinowski conducted field research in the Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea between 1914 and 1918. Interested in systems of economic exchange, particularly the generalized exchange and gift economies, Malinowski established himself as an early practitioner of participant-observer methodologies. The Bronislaw Malinowski Papers include field notebooks, journals, early manuscript drafts and correspondence from his research in the Trobriand Islands, as well as notes and drafts leading up to the publication of “Argonauts of the Western Pacific” in 1922.
Ruth Benedict made significant contributions to the field in her exploration and examination of the role of individuals in relation to larger societies and cultures, and her integration of analysis of personality and individual agency in cultural description. She published “Patterns of Culture” in 1934, a comparative work that integrated her own research and others. The Ruth Benedict Papers include notes and draft manuscripts from various field expeditions, including trips with the Pima, Serrano and Zuni throughout the 1930s.
This playlist demonstrates how Victor Turner’s studies of rituals and ceremonies among the Ndembu unfolded through the full scholarly process. Beginning with field notes, Turner organized his observations around themes and indexed them. In a later stage of analysis, he pieced the field notes together in order to recreate chronological events and to analyze the temporal structure. He then integrated the same field notes in various iterations of lectures and draft book manuscripts. The playlist also includes photographs as part of his field documentation process, as well as correspondence from the field between Turner and Max Gluckman.