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The Sorcerers' Apprentice: A life of Reo Franklin Fortune, Anthropologist

Between the two World Wars, the two main schools in world anthropology were the American and the British. The former was dominated by Franz Boas and his graduate students, while in Britain and its Empire the dominant figures were A. R. Radcliffe-Brown and Bronislaw Malinowski. These leaders acted as patrons to their students, assisting them in getting access to funding, field locations, and jobs. Few crossed the divide to work in both the paradigms and their respective institutions, but one who did was Reo Franklin Fortune. His place within the history of Anthropology has, however, to date remained little more than a footnote. There can be no doubt that Fortune contributed significantly to the development of modern field-based anthropological methods and arguments. All together, he undertook five full years of fieldwork, in cultures located as diversely as the Pacific Islands, New Guinea, East Asia and North America. Contemporary anthropology sometimes remembers Fortune for his well-known ethnographies Sorcerers of Dobu (1932) and Manus Religion (1935). More often, it merely recalls him as the second of Margaret Mead’s three husbands. Unfortunately too, Mead, her friends, and biographers have often portrayed Fortune in an unfavourable light. This work tries to present a more balanced story. It employs archival material to reconstruct the life of Fortune, demonstrating the complexity of his thinking and of his social and academic relationships. Each chapter demarcates a chronological period in Fortune’s life. Wherever possible, his own words and those of his friends, colleagues and associates are used to help tell the story. The person who emerges is highly talented and principled, with a strong sense of honesty and truth, but who is often betrayed or misunderstood by those around him.
Type of thesis
Thomas, C. (2011). The Sorcerers’ Apprentice: A life of Reo Franklin Fortune, Anthropologist (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5323
University of Waikato
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