History<br />Samoans are western Polynesian people whose home is about 2300 miles south of the Hawaiianislands<br />The islands of Samoa all resemble one anothertopographically<br />They are of volcanicorigin, withsandybeaches all along the coralreefcoast<br />Tropical climate ranges between 70-88 degrees<br />Tradewindsblowyear round and 200 inches of rainfallsannually<br />Population of the Samoan islandsis 193,000<br />The islandchainisdividedinto 2 politicalunits: American Samoa and Western Samoa<br />
Samoan Culture<br />The Aiga<br />The Matai<br />The Aumaga<br />Marriage and <br />Family<br />Cultivation<br />Religious Life<br />Margaret Mead<br /> <br /> A catholic church in Samoa<br />
The Aiga<br />According to Peters Golden, in her book, CultureSketches, « Samoan villages are organizedaround the household and the extendedfamily unit. Eachhouseholdisheaded by a man, the matai. The householdis made up of a husband, a wife and theirchildren, as well as elderly parents and otherkin ». <br />Stabilityis a feature of Samoan household structure<br />The Aigais the head of the household. The Aigaowns the titleitholds, whichisusuallyChief or TalkingChief<br />EachAiga has a home village whereitowns land<br />Membership of the Aiga must beobtainedthroughblood and marriage or adoption ties<br />The Aiga are an active group on occassionssuch as the death of the Matai whentheyneed to elect a new one<br />
The Matai<br /><ul><li>Matai’s are elected based on wealth, intelligence, ceremonial knowledge and education.
Cooking was exclusive to the Matai</li></ul>Samoan men cooking in an earth<br />oven. This is how traditional men<br />prepared the meals.<br />
The Aumaga<br />Untitled men whobelong to a workcooperative<br />Referred to as the strength of the village<br />The laborcore of the community<br />Buildhouses, repairroads, plant and harvest, fishermen<br />Assist the chief in ritual and cooking and servingatceremonies<br />Informalkeepers of the peace<br />Under leadership of a relative of the chief. <br />Samoan men working in the fields<br />
Marriage and Family<br />Households are equally involved in the planning of the wedding.<br />Two ceremonies are performed: Civil and Religious<br />Newly married couples choose which side of the family to live with after they are married<br />Ambilineal kinship system<br />Large families are economically advantageous<br />
Cultivation<br />Large trees and bushes are cut down with axes<br />Knives slice down tall grass and smaller shrubbery<br />Small controlled fires clear the land<br />Digging sticks are used to dislodge rocks and loosen the soil<br />Coconut is the most important crop and has the widest variety of uses<br />Also have banana trees, oranges, mangoes, papaya and yam patches<br />Village councils set up a work schedule to organize the agricultural life of the community<br />
Religious Life<br />Samoan myth describes the Tagaloa Gods: The Atua and Aitu<br />The Atua live as a family on the mountain tops that form heaven<br />Matai and Talking Chiefs invoked their names during ceremonies<br />Spoken words of thanks were offered to the Atua at mealtime<br />The Aitu were the spirits of the ancestors<br />Aitu are associated with fishing or with sacred places<br />Aitu sometimes take human form again<br />Certain areas are known to attract the Aitughosts<br />
Summary of Samoan Life:<br />Samoans value theirfamilies and take care of theirelderly. As Samoans age, theirstatusincreases and theirdailyresponsibilitiesdecrease. <br />Husbands and wivesworkcooperativelywithintheirmarriage. Children attend schools and help the familywithanimals, housework and water gathering.<br />The Matai is the head of the household, but plays a participatoryrole in the householdwork, such as cooking. <br />Families tend to their land together and the people of the village work as one unit to completeprojects.<br />The Samoans practice Christianity and believe in the TagaloaGods and associatethemwithmeals and prayers. <br />
Margaret Mead<br />According to Peters-Golden, in her book, Culture Sketches, « One of the greatestdebates in modern anthropologyconcerns the questions raised by Derek Freeman in 1983 about Margaret Mead’swork in Samoa ».<br /> Mead was one of anthropology’s best known and respectedmembers. Sheconductedethnographicresearchamong Samoan adolescents during the 1920’s. Shepublishedherfamous book, Coming of Age in Samoa, in 1928 and receivedherPh.D. from Columbia in 1929.<br />Mead’shypothesiswasthat the rebellion and turmoilthatcharacterized the American youthwas not necessarily a biologicaldictateshared by adolescents’ everywhere. Her argument wasthat the adolescents’ behaviorwasalsogreatlyinfluenced by the culture theywereraised in. <br /> Mead found the Samoan youth to not have the anguish and emotionalupheavalthat the American teenshad. The youthexperiencedlessrepression, conflict and tension.<br />Herethnographicstudieswereat the forefront of establishing the viewthat adolescents are the product of the environmentswherethey are nurtured and live.<br />
Derek Freeman is a sociobiologistwhotook issue withMead’shypothesis. He wrote a book in 1983 entitled, Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth. He claimedthatshe gave herreaders a false picture of Samoa in order to promoteherbeliefs of « nurture » over « nature ». <br /> He alsobelievedthat Margaret wasmisled by herinformants and thattheyprovidedherwith false reports.<br /> This rebuttle of Freeman’scaused an uproar in the world of anthropology. In 1990, a very long volume waspublished, withcommentaryfromdozens of anthropologists, all commenting on the Mead-Freeman debate. <br />SomeagreedthatMead’s original fieldworkwasindeedflawed. Somediscredited Freeman for the wayheposedhis challenges to herfieldwork in his book.<br />However, someofferedcommentaryregarding the two of theirviewpoints and how they relate to the nature of truth, the meaning of science and the power of myth.<br />Margaret Mead-Center<br />
To think about…<br />Margaret Mead was a world renowned Anthropologist who spent a number of months with the Samoans and wrote a book from her field notes, which were taken in Samoan. In her book, she states that Samoans lived stress free in a paradise of free love. Do you think Margaret Mead really experienced this? Did her informants tell her the truth or did bias indeed portray Mead’s research? Her hypothesis was based on one subset of youth in comparison to the youth of the United States. Was this enough to base her “nurture” and “nature” beliefs on? <br />On the other hand, let’s compare Freeman. He completed his fieldwork and book before the death of Mead. However, he published his book after her death. Were his actions correct or deceitful? She could not rebute his accusations herself. <br />
Video Clips<br />http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVhxVmTYyXY<br />This is a youtubevideo of Western Samoan culture today.<br />http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVhxVmTYyXY<br />This is a veryinteresting 6 part video on the Freeman-Mead debate. <br />The book by Freeman…<br />
Bibliography<br />Cote, J.E. 2000. The Mead-Freeman Controversy in Review. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 29(5), 525-539.<br />Peters-Golden, Holly. 2009. Culture Sketches: Case Studies in Anthropology. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.<br />Shankman, Paul, 1996. The History of Samoan SexualConduct and the Mead-Freeman Controversy. American Anthropologist, 98(3), 555-567. <br />Strain, Stan. 1997. Margaret Mead, Derek Freeman. Retrieved July 11, 2009, fromWebSite: http://www.stpt.usf.edu/~jsokolov/314mead1.htm <br />
The End<br />Sadra West<br />Joliet Junior College<br />
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