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Ruth Fulton Benedict

Benedict, Ruth Fulton, 1887–1948, American anthropologist, b. New York City, grad. Vassar, 1909, Ph.D. Columbia, 1923. She was a student and later a colleague of Franz Boas at Columbia, where she taught from 1924. She did fieldwork among Native Americans and studied contemporary European and Asian cultures. Her works emphasize the concepts of cultural configuration, national character, and the role of culture in individual personality formation. Her widely read books helped popularize the concept of culture and attacked racism and ethnocentrism. She is the author of Concept of the Guardian Spirit in North America (1923), Patterns of Culture (1934), Zuni Mythology (1935), Race: Science and Politics (rev. ed. 1943), and The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture (1946). A collection of her work and biographical data was edited by Margaret Mead under the title An Anthropologist at Work (1959, repr. 1966).

See biography by M. Mead (1974).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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