By Dustin M. Wax
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Extra info for Anthropology at the Dawn of the Cold War: The Influence of Foundations, Mccarthyism, and the
I know of no evidence of Montagu’s mistreating students and, in fact, interviews and letters from some former students suggest otherwise. These multiple narratives may help illuminate a complex mix of causality in his expulsion from the university. Montagu represented his departure from Rutgers retrospectively as his choice. The FBI file and administrative correspondence tell a different tale, and what we might call the collective memory of the succeeding Rutgers establishment adds a third narrative, Rashomon-style.
The document makes clear that it was not only Montagu’s participation in a variety of liberal causes, such as civil rights, that concerned the Bureau, but, significantly, the very nature of his ideas about human nature. A 1950 entry in the file simply quotes a passage from one of Montagu’s books as evidence of “communist tendencies”: “A profit-motive, economic-struggle-for-existence society is a predatory society, and class-and-caste society, a divisive society, in which each person is an isolate preying upon and preyed upon by others” (Montagu FBI File).
The “Cardboard Darwinism” (Gould 1986) that germinated at Rutgers and other American universities during the Cold War is still a very influential trend in a number of disciplines, particularly in departments of biological anthropology and psychology. But there is increasing resistance to the reductionism of sociobiology within evolutionary anthropology. A number of evolutionary anthropologists are working to build a new biocultural synthesis, one which Wax 01 intro 31 21/11/07 16:26:12 free book 32 Anthropology at the Dawn of the Cold War studies the intersections of human biology and culture with the political-economic realities of human populations on a global scale (Goodman and Leatherman 1998).
Anthropology at the Dawn of the Cold War: The Influence of Foundations, Mccarthyism, and the by Dustin M. Wax