The Social Anthropology of Latin America: Essays in Honor of Ralph Leon Beals

The Social Anthropology of Latin America: Essays in Honor of Ralph Leon Beals

The Social Anthropology of Latin America: Essays in Honor of Ralph Leon Beals

The Social Anthropology of Latin America: Essays in Honor of Ralph Leon Beals

Excerpt

The Social Anthropology of Latin America is offered to Ralph Leon Beals to honor him as scholar, teacher, and colleague. Those of us who have enjoyed being part of the department he founded at UCLA, which he served for more than thirty years as founder and principal guide and counselor, know his unique value as an intellect and a person.

Early in' the process of putting this book together, it became apparent that the most fitting tribute to Beals would be one that focused on the subject matter closest to his own research interests. Contributors, therefore, have been limited to those of his colleagues and former students whose research related to the central theme. Inevitably, that meant excluding many who would have liked to honor him with their contributions. The editors believe, however, that it has made for a book that reflects in some degree the range of Beals's research interests and his influence on current anthropological thought.

Beals's contribution to anthropology is not easy to characterize. His catholic interests and his fairness to all points of view, which made him so successful in building a joint department of anthropology and sociology at UCLA, meant that he neither founded nor belonged to any "school" of anthropology. Although his primary interest has been in the social anthropology of Latin America, his concern with and knowledge of other subdivisions of anthropology and of related disciplines such as sociology, social psychology, and genetics have been well evidenced in his general writings, especially in several chapters of An Introduction to Anthropology, the textbook (now in its third edition) that he wrote with Harry Hoijer. His active professional life bridges the period from the time when anthropology was completely devoted to Boasian culture-history until the present, and it is significant that he has adopted current interests without repudiating what was of value, in the older tradition. His first work was in that tradition: descriptive presentations of cultural characteristics in time and space. By mid-career, however, he had changed with changing currents of anthropological concern; he became involved in problems of acculturation, the adaptation of native cul-

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