Historical Who is Who
1887 - 1948
Childhood illness and unhappiness along with a range of cross-cultural field experience were aspects of the diverse range of experience on which Ruth Benedict was able to draw as a cultural anthropologist. So too were close relationships with Franz Boas and Margaret Mead. Early on she developed an interest in female emancipation – evident in her mini biography of Mary Wollstonecraft, but sadly, in spite of her scholarly stature even internationally, her full professorial elevation came too late for her to enjoy. The relevance of anthropological perspective in national defence became an incentive for her study of Japanese culture. The relativism which she identified in such variably predominant attitudes towards such as trance experience, paranoia and homosexuality did not dilute her sense of moral integrity which was also present in her scientific humanism.