Margaret Mead

(1901–1978) Anthropologist known for studying the sexual and mating habits of faraway populations

(1901–1978) Anthropologist known for studying the sexual and mating habits of faraway populations. In 1936 she went with her third husband Gregory Bateson to Bali and to Papua Nuova Guinea where they studied Naven ceremonies. She wrote 44 books and more than 1.000 articles. Her daughter Mary Catherine has a systemic mind. Interesting is the book she wrote on her parents: With a daughter’s eye, memoirs of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson.

Umberta Telfener: I was comfortably seated at a conference in New York – “Beyond the double bind, twenty years later” – waiting for it to start. It was probably 1977 (Towards a Theory of Schizophrenia came out in 1956). I looked to my right and a funny lady with a  white hair bob and a long stick was sitting beside me. Gregory Bateson enters on stage and starts telling the story of the Rockefeller Project and of the group around it (Jackson, Haley, Weakland), till the lady starts  to beat her stick with energy on the floor, stating her disagreement. I sort of panicked, how will He react? Surprisingly I saw Bateson bowing and assuming a one down position: “Hello there, my dear Margaret” he said “Come on stage and give your version”. I was amazed, she raised and with an authoritative stance started explaining. My neighbor was Margaret Mead, the cultural anthropologist  who had been Bateson’s wife from 1936 to 1949 and who had done fieldwork with him.
During the conference interval I introduced myself as a student coming from abroad and later we had a long conversation over a cup of tea. She told me about the times with Gregory in Bali, their life there, their field studies. The relationship with the population, she spoke about the role of the observer and we openly laughed about the competition among the two of them. What a fortunate chance!

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