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November 7, 2023 28 mins

In January 1983, the front page of The New York Times read: “New Samoa Book Challenges Margaret Mead’s Conclusions.” 

Anthropologist Derek Freeman had been building his critique of Mead for years, sending her letters and even confronting her in person. Freeman’s resulting book, Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth, was published five years after Mead died. 

Who was Freeman and why did he take such issue with Mead’s work in American Samoa?

Season 6 of the SAPIENS podcast was co-produced by PRX and SAPIENS, and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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