Gods of the Upper Air: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century

Doubleday. Aug. 2019. 448p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780385542197. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780385542203. ANTHRO
Even though anthropology is considered to be related to psychology, King (international affairs & government, Georgetown Univ.; Midnight at the Pera Palace) demonstrates how the field’s history makes it unique by taking readers through each leading character who influenced a developmental phase of anthropological thought and practice. In its development, anthropology had to undergo a transformation that started with the questioning of early 20th-century Western cultural ideals, such as race, religion, and sexual expression. Detailed, storylike chapter biographies trace the lives of scholars, writers, and anthropologists such as Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, Zora Neale Hurston, and Ella Cara Deloria. Using this method, King calls upon future anthropologists to understand how their scholarly predecessors used their distant view from the “upper air” as a means of observation and what that means for ethical methods of study moving forward.
VERDICT This group portrait of pioneering leaders in the field is recommended reading for undergraduate and graduate students, professional academics, and individuals with an interest in anthropology, cultural anthropology, and history.
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