Coming of Age in Samoa
Read Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead. Respond to the issues in Section 1 PLUS Section 2 OR 3 of the following discussion prompt.
1. What elements of Mead’s account were most compelling to you and why? How does presenting this material in an ethnography bring out social issues in a way you might not see in other kinds of presentations? Are there any things that you question or wish were presented differently?
2. Think about and analyze the text in the context of one of the course themes we’ve discussed already, using Mead’s text and at least one other text we’ve read in the course. Potential themes are:
belief systems and values
relationships and personal interconnections
language and terminology
3. Mead’s text is both famous and controversial in anthropology for a number of reasons. Do some research in secondary sources about the controversy around this book, thinking about the following
the role of popular ethnography/ issues around academic scholarship OR
the use of the text by the feminist movement
Present the basic arguments for and against Coming of Age in Samoa you find in your research, and explain how these issues impact your impressions on the value of Mead’s work. Do they change your perspective, and why or why not?
Make sure to not only comment on these issues descriptively but in terms of connections to bigger themes and social meanings. Focus on one or two themes from the overall text– don’t feel like you have to cover it all in your paper. You can also combine the various sections listed here as you prefer, as long as you cover all of the parts of the discussion prompt. The overall assignment should be between 8 and 10 pages, and don’t forget to use references appropriately in your paper.
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