David Maybury-Lewis and Cultural Survival: Providing a Model for Public Anthropology, Advocacy, and Collaboration

By Lamphere, Louise | Anthropological Quarterly, Fall 2009 | Go to article overview

David Maybury-Lewis and Cultural Survival: Providing a Model for Public Anthropology, Advocacy, and Collaboration


Lamphere, Louise, Anthropological Quarterly


In 1972, David Maybury-Lewis and his wife Pia founded Cultural Survival, a non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples.1 At a time when most academic anthropologists were committed to objective social science research, publication, and teaching, David and Pia's efforts were very much outside the mainstream. Their actions were a response to the deteriorating situation of the Brazilian Indians they had studied in the 1960s. Yet the early years of Cultural Survival are a model for what has become public or engaged anthropology-an approach currently recognized as more central and legitimate within our discipline. Documentation, advocacy, and collaboration-three characteristics of Cultural Survival's work-have become regular activities both for a broad range of anthropologists and for the American Anthropological Association, the largest professional association of anthropologists.

The Context

In an early newsletter, David explained how he and Pia came to found Cultural Survival:

"Over twenty years [1958] ago my wife and I took our baby son and went to live with the Shavante Indians of Central Brazil. They had a reputation at that time for being fiercely hostile to outsiders, so that local backwoodsmen gave them a wide berth as they roamed beyond the frontier of Brazilian society. The Shavante accepted our little family, however, and let us live with them, to learn about them and to learn from them...Today [1980] they are still struggling to defend their way of life. The frontier has now caught up with the Shavante and threatens to destroy them. Their lands have been invaded and reduced..... They need help as do hundreds of other small societies throughout the world" (Cultural Survival Newsletter 4:3:12).

The condition of the Xavante and David and Pia's decision to found Cultural Survival seems light years away from the anthropology of the late l950s, when they first visited the Xavante, and 1962, when I arrived at Harvard as a graduate student. Social anthropology (which at the time was part of the Social Relations Department) was a discipline that saw itself as a social science dedicated to the objective and careful study of small-scale societies using field research and participant observation. David had arrived at Harvard, in 1961, fresh from Oxford-one of the British universities where the "real" social anthropology, as developed by Radcliffe- Brown, Evans- Pritchard, and Needham, was practiced. I remember taking copious notes in David's class on "Kinship and Marriage" as he lectured on Lévi-Strauss, Needham, and Leach and their models of cross-cousin marriage. His lectures were clear and elegant. They led me to understand the many ways in which kinship ordered almost all social relationships in indigenous societies. David was one of my dissertation advisors (Evon Vogt served as the other). While most other students were involved in Harvard faculty research projects that took them to Central Brazil, Chiapas, and India, a handful of us conducted research with Native North Americans, groups that had long been studied by US anthropologists and were somewhat "passé" compared to populations in more exotic parts of the world. I conducted my research on residence patterns and cooperation on the Navajo Reservation in 1965-66, and, characteristically, David suggested that I write the chapter on kinship and social organization first, since that would presumably be the heart of the dissertation.

Between 1965 and 1972, the US and the world changed dramatically. The US was increasingly involved in the Vietnam War, spawning a vigorous anti-war movement. We began to see US policy as no longer benevolent and US support for the World Bank and other international institutions as having very negative consequences for the indigenous peoples we studied. On the Navajo reservation, new coal strip mines, power plants, and light manufacturing plants raised environmental and labor issues, while in Brazil, the plans for building a highway in the Northwest frontier area threatened many small indigenous groups who had no land rights and who died from infectious diseases brought by invading settlers. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

David Maybury-Lewis and Cultural Survival: Providing a Model for Public Anthropology, Advocacy, and Collaboration
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.