In the Equilibrium of Cultures: Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, and American Anthropology, ca. 1930-1950
Husband and wife Margaret Mead (1901-1978) and Gregory Bateson (1904-1980) were among the leading American anthropologists in the 1930s and 1940s. Thilo Neidhöfer’s dissertation project explores the reconfigured relationship between science and state with these two tightly intertwined life stories as its focal point. In a time of radical change in the US and worldwide, anthropology – a central discipline in the humanities – can be regarded as a seismograph for key social, cultural, and political changes. The focus on a single couple allows for, on the one hand, an elucidation of how individual actors negotiated transformations in scientific disciplines and, on the other hand, brings to light the relevant interconnectedness between, e.g., science, state, and the public sphere.
Thilo Neidhöfer studied history and political science in Oldenburg and Long Beach, and completed his studies with a thesis on autobiographical practices of subjectification among English merchants in the 17th century. He was a research assistant in the University of Oldenburg Department of History and then a teaching assistant and teacher for mobile and stationary youth services. In 2013 he was a Doctoral Fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C. He has been a doctoral student in the at the University of Linz Department of Modern and Contemporary History since 2012, and was employed there as a university assistant until summer 2016.
"Popularität und Prestige. Margaret Mead und die Gratwanderungen der Wissenschaft(lichkeit)," in: L’HOMME. Europäische Zeitschrift für feministische Geschichtswissenschaft, 27,2 (2016), pp. 93–108; with Barbara Louis, "Private Lives of Scholars" (2015), in: James D. Wright (ed.), International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, vol. 1., pp. 34-38.
In der Hoffnung, zu entscheidenden Erkenntnissen für die amerikanische Gesellschaft zu gelangen, forschte das Ehepaar Margaret Mead und Gregory Bateson in den 1930er-Jahren auf Bali. Warum sie glaubten, gerade dort fündig zu werden, und wie sie schließlich das gewonnene Wissen in den USA zur Geltung brachten, fragt Thilo Neidhöfer.