Mary Catherine Bateson

(1939 – 2021) Anthropologist and writer

(1939 – 2021) Anthropologist and writer she is the daughter of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. Ph.D. in linguistics and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard in 1963. Among the books we remember With a Daughter’s Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson(1984); Angels Fear: Towards an Epistemology of the Sacred, written with Gregory Bateson (1987); Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom (2010). She considered herself an “activist for peace and justice”.

Giovanni Madonna: In November 1999, in Naples, I had the honor and pleasure of meeting for the first time Mary Catherine Bateson, eldest daughter of Gregory Bateson, my beloved mentor. The occasion was the conference ‘Thinking and Acting through Stories’, of which I was one of the organizers and at which Mary Catherine participated as guest of honor, with a session entirely dedicated to her. During one of the three days of the conference – I don’t remember which one – Mary Catherine asked me to accompany her as a guide around the city. She needed to buy a coat. Evidently – perhaps overestimating the vaunted gentleness of the Neapolitan climate – she had come to Italy not fully equipped in terms of clothing. I accepted her request with joy and trepidation and led her around via Toledo, via Chiaia and via Calabritto, introducing her to the city’s best clothes shops. In none of these, however, to my surprise, did Mary Catherine find a coat she liked. Mournfully, gripped by a sense of failure and mortification, I accepted my hostess’s proposal to return to the Auditorium, venue of the conference. On the way, suddenly, Mary Catherine lit up and pointed at something on the pavement opposite the one we were walking on. We crossed the street and she, smiling, stopped to look for her coat on a second-hand clothes stall. It looked great on her.


Agenda Upcoming events