Home » Book Review: Truth’s Fool: Derek Freeman and the War over Cultural Anthropology

Book Review: Truth’s Fool: Derek Freeman and the War over Cultural Anthropology

EXCERPT

The late Emeritus Professor (John) Derek Freeman was such a towering and dominant presence in the study of Austronesian cultures, specifically in his extended fieldwork among the Iban of the Baleh region of Sarawak and the Samoans of Sa’anapu in Western Samoa that his biography by Peter Hempenstall deserves an extended review. I use the term “biography” as a shorthand. Hempenstall tells us that his work “takes the biographer’s perspective and the historian’s tools”; Truth’s Fool is “part biography, part intellectual history, and partly a historian’s appraisal of the controversy that swirled around Freeman’s view of [Margaret] Mead… from the 1980s into the new century” (p. x). Much of Freeman’s private and domestic life, his childhood, his activities outside of research and writing are not on view in this book.

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