Edward H. Spicer

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Edward Holland "Ned" Spicer (1906–1983) was an American anthropologist who specialized in studying American Indian tribes of the American Southwest as a participant-observer. Having much of his career at the University of Arizona, he had a lifelong conviction that "one goes to ordinary people for cultural essentials," and he learned about the native tribes by living among them, and becoming part of their lives, not merely visiting them to elicit information by questions.

Early life and education[edit]

Edward Spicer, called Ned, was born 29 November 1906 in Cheltenham, Pa.


Spicer joined the University of Arizona faculty in 1946. He was part of a movement based on participant observation as the way to gain better comprehension of a people and their culture, and to gain data by living closely with a people. He specialized with the American Indians of the Southwest.

Spicer wrote nine books and countless articles and essays. He is perhaps best known for two books: The Yaquis: A Cultural History (1980) [1] and Cycles of Conquest (1962) [2] This book won the Southwestern Library Association's 1964 award for Best Book on the Southwest.

The Society for Applied Anthropology honored Spicer with its Bronislaw Malinowski Award in 1976. Spicer's acceptance speech at its meeting in St. Louis was entitled "Beyond Analysis and Explanation? Notes on the Life and Times of the Society for Applied Anthropology".

Spicer served as editor of the journal American Anthropologist. He was elected president of the American Anthropological Association.

Marriage and family[edit]

Ned was married to Rosamond Spicer Rosamond Spicer, a noted anthropologist in her own right. Together they had three children, Barry, Penny, and Lawson. Spicer died in 1983 from cancer.

Legacy and honors[edit]

  • 1964, Southwestern Library Association Best Book on the Southwest
  • 1976, Bronislaw Malinowski Award, Society for Applied Anthropology
  • 1983, the main-belt asteroid 2065 Spicer was named in his memory


  1. ^ Spicer, E. H. 1980. The Yaquis: A Cultural History, University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.
  2. ^ Spicer, E. H. 1962. Cycles of Conquest, University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.