An Academic Misfit Comes of Age Through Anthropology

Reading Margaret Mead's Coming of Age in Samoa was my introduction, not only to the concept of culture, but to the critique of culture -- ours. Before 1961, when I read Coming of Age in an "Introduction to Anthropology" course at the University of Michigan, Mead had already done a great deal to popularize the concept of cultural relativity. Her voice had reached into my teenage hell, to whisper my comforting first mantra, "Everything is relative; everything is relative," meaning: There are