Talk:Marvin Harris

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I added the link to Columbia University faculty. Source is I had him for a stimulating and interesting year in anthropology.Tham153 (talk) 17:44, 22 June 2013 (UTC)


The bibliography was long and unwieldy, so I moved it to List of Marvin Harris works. Stilgar135 16:37, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

Tagged with "2001 deaths" but the article doesn't give a date of death. Seems odd to me. Zian (talk) 12:06, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

I found an obituary that says October, 25th 2001, here .--Woland (talk) 14:19, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

Theoretical Contributions[edit]

This section seems to favor Harris' (unreferenced) opinions over those of some unspecified feminists and academics, so I'm formally disputing its neutrality.

It talks very vaguely about an academic counter-reaction, of which I doubt there is any evidence, so I flagged the section as having original research. (talk) 08:08, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

I was initially perplexed regarding the above comments in relation to the flag, as this section does not appear to favour, or advocate, a particular point of view, especially with regards feminism. It describes Harris' view, as exemplified by his contributions, and looks sound enough insofar as that goes, without any obvious neutrality problems.

Nevertheless, I created a sub-section called 'Critisms and controversies', to facilitate contributions on that subject. I did look on the web for specific criticisms of Harris, especially feminist criticisms and critiques, in case there was a large and obvious body of knowledge which one would be remiss not to cite (I thought perhaps that was the underlying issue, but read on). I was unable to find any specific feminist critiques of Harris, although that does not mean they don't exist. I did find a feminist article in which the author agreed with a point made by Harris, and referenced that.

I then realised that perhaps I should check the Harris article as it was at the time the flag was posted (28 July 2008). On doing this, I had no difficulty seeing why the flags were posted. I would suggest that the time has come to remove all the flags except the citation/referencing one.

The reason is that I think the original criticisms pertaining to neutrality and original research have been addressed, which is why I had difficulty seeing their relevance.

I hope this is of some help.Wotnow (talk) 05:07, 13 October 2009 (UTC)Wotnow.

The section on criticism is a good idea for a section, but as it stands it sounds like a skeleton of what should be there; we are told the obvious (some people disagree with him, some agree, others have other points of view) but we are not told much of substance.(my comments in bold):

While Harris' contributions to anthropology are widely respected, they do not represent the only views within that field.[This is so obvious as to be meaningless. Is there anyone of whom it cannot be said his are not the only views within his field? It has been said that "Other anthropologists and observers had almost as many opinions about Dr. Harris as he had about why people behave as they do. Smithsonian magazine called him 'one of the most controversial anthropologists alive.' Good quotes. Now--can we learn what some of those controversies are?The Washington Post described him as 'a storm center in his field,' and the Los Angeles Times accused him of 'overgeneralized assumptions'." [8] This is the only statement that even approaches substance. More of this sort would help us get a picture of Harris vs. his critics.Other fields, such as feminist anthropology, have much to say about topics such as gender and the role of women in society.Again, this is a mind-numbingly obvious statement. Does anyone doubt that feminist anthropology has much to say about gender and the role of women? What does this have to do with Marvin Harris? That field itself covers a range of perspectives, Not to beat on a dead horse here, but this too is a. obvious and b. unrelated to Marvin Harris including some who agree with various points made by Harris.[9]The link is interesting and might be made the topic of part of this article, but again, that some people in some field agree with some unspecified points made by Harris is not, in itself, the sort of information-rich sentence for which one looks in an encyclopedia. If anyone out there has access to substantial quotes from other anthropologists making specific criticisms (postive or negative) about Harris' work, that would be really helpful to flesh this paragraph out. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Pplbm (talkcontribs) 05:11, 19 November 2009 (UTC)

This articleis bearly (barely?)readable[edit]

Honestly, I read a book by M. Harris, and while I didn't agree with most of it I found it clear. This article is written in some PM lingo which totally obscures its content. Blah. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:45, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

I have to agree - major problems[edit]

I stumbled upon this article and was pretty surprised by this sentence in particular:

"It is very unfortunate that so quick and politicized a reading of one of the many points Harris was making in the book served to disable, to any degree, a book that could have provided much of the badly-needed theoretical foundation that had been so sadly lacking in the political thinking of younger people in the Sixties and their cultural aftermath."

What's going on with this stuff about younger people in the Sixties? "Sadly lacking"? That section needs to be rewritten for sure. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:33, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

The notion that Aztecs used ritual cannibalism for dietary sustenance has been thoroughly discredited.

I disagree with merging the historical partiularism page with the Marvin Harris page. While he may have coined the term, it is a useful way to talk about Boas and others and as a useful category, in its own right, deserves its own space. (talk) 14:29, 5 October 2011 (UTC)Cynthia Gabriel, Ph.D.

"Thoroughly discredited" generally means "I disagree with it." No one went back in time and proved Harris wrong. If there is now wide disagreement in the field on this topic, it should be noted in the Criticism section. In any case, Harris seems to have seen his own work as discrediting much of the field, so all we end up with is finger-pointing. MarkinBoston (talk) 23:13, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

Merge Historical particularism here[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
The result of this discussion was no consensus. Unfortunately the destination article was never tagged, so given the lack of response to this proposal it seems likely that interested editors were not aware of it. It seems like a worthwhile merge, so hopefully someone will renew the proposal. NukeofEarl (talk) 16:15, 6 November 2014 (UTC)

There is no doubt that Marvin Harris coined the term "Historical particularism" to lump Boas, Kroeber, and others in one of the movements in anthropology he disagreed with.

But Boas and Kroeber did not identify themselves this way, nor did they agree over most things

Moreover, George Stocking - a real historian - does not lump these anthropologists together this way, nor does he identify this as a meaningful period in the history of anthropology.

I made these comments at Historical particularism five years ago, when the article was just a stub. It is still a stub, and I still hold the above views. I think that this article should summarize Harris's main work, including his Rise of Anthropological Theory which was very influential in the US when it was published but is now practically never cited or referred to and has been superceded as a study of anthropological history. It is clear that "historical particularism" is a way that Harris looked at anthropology, and not a "real" school of thought, so it belongs here. (or in a new article on RAT) Slrubenstein | Talk 12:25, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Criticism section edits[edit]

Refer above to the very good take-down of the criticism section in the Theoretical Contributions section above. Much of it the criticism section makes no sense, and appears to have been taken from a freshman anthropology assignment. I've been BOLD and cut out much of the section. No doubt there is much criticism of Harris out there, but it just doesn't exist in this section, and seeing as the discussion above comes from 2009(!), I figured it was reasonable for me to dump what didn't belong. If someone wants to add a feminist critique to replace what I removed, have at it. MarkinBoston (talk) 23:08, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

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