Margaret Mead  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Margaret Mead (December 16, 1901, PhiladelphiaNovember 15, 1978, New York City) was an American cultural anthropologist who was frequently a featured writer and speaker in the mass media throughout the '60s and '70s as a populariser of the insights of anthropology into modern American and western life but also a respected, if controversial, academic anthropologist. Her reports (Coming of Age in Samoa, 1928) as to the purportedly healthy attitude towards sex in South Pacific and Southeast Asian traditional cultures amply informed the 1960s "sexual revolution" and it was only at the end of her life and career that her propositions were – albeit controversially – challenged by a maverick fellow anthropologist and literate members of societies she had long before studied and reported on. Mead was a champion of broadened sexual mores within a context of traditional western religious life.

Perhaps unexpectedly, in view of her famously unconventional views as to the desirability of adjusting traditional family patterns to suit modern times, she remained to her life's end a conventional Anglican Christian and indeed took a considerable part in the drafting of the 1979 American Book of Common Prayer.

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