Saturday, November 25, 2017

"Ethnologists and other experts"

Boas is known. Better known to those over fifty are his students: Margaret Mead especially, for her landmark book Coming of Age in Samoa (1928), but also Ruth Benedict, whose nicely written Patterns of Culture (1934) features a memorable chapter on the "Dionysian" Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka'wakw) and the "Apollonian" Zuni.

Another student of Boas was Paul Radin, whose The Trickster (1956) was for the longest time the go-to book on that topic.

Like many scholars with "popular" impulses, Radin wrote a book for a "general" readership. The Story of the American Indian (1927) includes chapters like "The Capitalists of the North" (on the Kwakiutl) and a final chapter entitled "Can There Be an Indian Renaissance?" in which he suggests that if such a renaissance were to occur, it would require "a common homeland," and that homeland, to his mind, would be Mexico.

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