NY Times obit
NY Times obit
Dr. Morton Klass, Anthropologist, Dies at 73
By WOLFGANG SAXON
Dr. Morton Klass, an anthropologist and a writer who focused on the people of South Asia and their descendants in the West Indies, died Saturday at his home in Washington Heights in Manhattan. He was 73.
The cause was a heart attack, his family said.
Dr. Klass taught for more than 30 years at Barnard College and Columbia University, where he served as director of the Southern Asian Institute in the 1980's. Barnard credited him with helping to revitalize its anthropology department, from which he retired as a professor emeritus in 1997.
Most recently he examined the anthropology of religion in general. The result was a textbook on the subject, "Ordered Universes," which remains in print, as do several of his books.
Morton Klass was born in Brooklyn and graduated with a degree in anthropology from Brooklyn College in 1955. He received a Ph.D. in the discipline from Columbia in 1959.
His interest in anthropology began with his reading of Margaret Mead's classic "Coming of Age in Samoa" while he was on sea duty with the United States merchant marine in the 1940's.
His dissertation, "East Indians in Trinidad," dealt with the offspring of sugar plantation workers imported in the 19th century.
His studies required extensive field work in the Caribbean and West Bengal, a state in India. He wrote about the caste system persisting in both regions, its prehistoric origins, its clash with economic development and the complex relationship between caste society and Hindu religion.
His other books included "From Field to Factory: Community Structure and Industrialization in West Bengal," "Caste: The Emergence of the South Asian Social System" and "Singing with Sai Baba: The Politics of Revitalization in Trinidad."
With Maxine Weisgrau, he edited "Across the Boundaries of Belief: Contemporary Issues in the Anthropology of Religion."
Dr. Klass is survived by his wife of 48 years, Sheila Solomon Klass, a novelist and retired professor of English; two daughters, Dr. Perri E. Klass of Cambridge, Mass., and Judy A. Klass of Brooklyn; a son, David A., of Manhattan; a sister, Fran Goldman-Levy of Brooklyn; a brother, Philip, of Pittsburgh; and four grandchildren.
NY Times obit
Jamake Highwater, American Indian Author
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LOS ANGELES -- Jamake Highwater, a prolific award- winning American Indian writer and host of PBS documentaries on Indian heritage, died on June 3 at his home in Los Angeles. His date of birth is unknown, but he was said to be 59.
The cause was a heart attack, said his friend Ruth Schwab.
Mr. Highwater, best known for his books "Anpao: An American Indian Odyssey" and "The Sun, He Dies: A Novel About the End of the Aztec World," wrote more than 30 books on art, dance, music and history. His work included novels, nonfiction, poetry and even travel books for Fodor's.
Mr. Highwater won some of the most prestigious awards given for young people's fiction, including the Newbery Honor Award for "Anpao" in 1978 and a half-dozen Best Book for Young Adults awards from the American Library Association and School Library Journal.
He gained wide public exposure through his several documentaries for PBS, including "The Primal Mind" in 1984. The film was based on his book "The Primal Mind: Vision and Reality in Indian America."
Mr. Highwater knew little about his early life, other than that he was born to Indian parents and adopted around the age of 7 by Alexander and Marcia Marks. For years he used the name J. Marks and even wrote his earliest books, on subjects like rock music and Mick Jagger, under that name.
He moved to New York and lectured at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture and other institutions. He wrote for the New Grove Dictionary of American Music, as well as alternative publications, including The Los Angeles Free Press.
Arthur Fodor, the travel-guide publisher, encouraged Mr. Highwater to focus on his own culture and commissioned him to write a travel guide to "Indian America" in 1974.
In the 1980's Mr. Highwater published his noted "Ghost Horse" quartet of novels: "Legend Days," "The Ceremony of Innocence," "I Wear the Morning Star" and "Kill Hole." In the last decade he delved into mysticism and spirituality, with books like "Myth and Sexuality," "The Language of Vision: Myth and Metaphor in Society" and "The Mythology of Transgression: Homosexuality as Metaphor
RE:NY Times obit
I got a phone call from somebody at the National Museum who mumbled her name (sorry) who wanted me to know that the Ruth Scwab listed as a "friend" in Jamake Highwater's obit was actually his sister; and the caller seemed more skeptical of his "re-creation of himself" than the Times was.
First: Thanks for the feedback.
Second: Please feel free to jump in and share any comments you have with the list. That is what it is for.
Third: If you have not already done so, you might want to let the Times know about the friend/sister mix up.
NY Times obit
July 19, 2001
Jia Lanpo, Archaeologist Who Led Work on Peking Man, Is Deat at 92
By ANAHAD O'CONNOR
Jia Lanpo, one of China's leading archaeologists and a director of the Peking man excavation, died on July 8 at his home in Beijing. He was 92.
As director of the fossil site at Zhoukoudian, 30 miles southwest of Beijing, Mr. Jia helped discover the first Chinese hominid fossils, dating from the Pleistocene Era, which began 1.8 million years ago. Since the 1940's, the site has also produced animal fossils, stone tools and evidence that fire was used in the Middle Pleistocene.
Working at the site, Mr. Jia helped unearth 45 Homo erectus fossils, more than any site in the world has produced, collectively known as the Peking man fossils. Mr. Jia studied the fossils to piece together how hominids in the region evolved and supported the theory that modern Chinese could be traced from them.
Mr. Jia was a graduate student when he was appointed interim overseer of the Zhoukoudian excavations in 1929. In 1931, he became a technical assistant for the National Geological Survey of China at the site and four years later was named director.
Most of the remains were lost in World War II, when, in an attempt to safeguard them from the Japanese invaders, American marines tried to deliver them to a ship bound for the United States and the American Museum of Natural History. What happened to them remains a mystery.
But casts of the fossils were made, based in part on the work of Mr. Jia, a meticulous record keeper. He managed to protect thousands of notes, letters and 2,000 photographs and negatives of the excavation at home in Beijing.
After the Peking man work, Mr. Jia led and participated in excavations of several Pleistocene sites in China. In 1990, he directed a Chinese- American excavation in the Nihewan Basin of northern China with help from J. Desmond Clark, an archaeologist who specializes in Africa.
Throughout his career, Mr. Jia was a prolific writer and published more than 180 papers, many focusing on the behavioral and morphological evolution of hominids in China. He wrote two well-known books, including "Chinese Homo Erectus" (1950) and "Early Man in China" (1980).
Four children survive.
NY Times obit
September 24, 2001
Lynn Payer Dies at 56; Wrote of Culture and Medicine
By WOLFGANG SAXON
Lynn Payer, a science writer and medical journalist best known for her books about the impact of culture on medical care, died Saturday at Calvary Hospice in the Bronx. She was 56 and lived in Manhattan.
The cause was breast cancer, said her sister, Cheryl Payer, her only immediate relative.
Ms. Payer's critically praised book, "Medicine and Culture: Varieties of Treatment in the United States, England, West Germany and France," was first published by Holt in 1988. A 1995 paperback edition is still in print.
The book grew from her work as a reporter in Europe writing on health and medical matters. The countries she studied have similar mortality rates but significant differences in medical practice.
Medical care, she found, is strongly influenced by cultural norms and values ingrained over hundreds of years. The differences can show up in the types and quantities of drugs doctors prescribe, the kinds and numbers of operations performed, even what blood pressure levels are thought to require treatment.
Lynn Payer was born in El Dorado, Kan., and discovered her interest in science on nature walks and at summer science camps of the National Science Foundation. She studied comparative biochemistry and physiology at the University of Kansas, graduating in 1967, and got her master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1969.
She was a reporter for Medical Tribune in New York, but she soon quit and spent eight years in Paris in the 1970's before returning to New York in 1979 as a freelance writer.
At her death, she was managing editor of Medical Encounter, the quarterly newsletter of the American Academy on Physician and Patient.
She contributed to a book, "Questions Patients Most Often Ask Their Doctors" (Bantam, 1983), and was the author of "How to Avoid a Hysterectomy" (Pantheon, 1987). She also wrote "Disease Mongers: How Doctors, Drug Companies, and Insurers are Making You Feel Sick" (Reed, 1992).
NY Times obit
David Hopkins, 79, Authority on Land Bridge of First Ice Age, Dies
By WOLFGANG SAXON
Dr. David Moody Hopkins, an arctic geologist and leading authority on the land link that allowed ice age hunters to pursue their mammoth and mastodon prey from Siberia to Alaska nearly 12,000 years ago, died on Nov. 2 at his home in Menlo Park, Calif. He was 79.
The cause was kidney failure, his family said.
Dr. Hopkins's work centered on the Western Arctic during the last ice age. When he began his field work on the Seward Peninsula in the early 1940's, the region's geology was mostly unknown to scientists.
In the 1950's and 1960's he joined with botanists, archaeologists and others to study the area in its permafrozen entirety and to date its first inhabitants by the campsites and hunting stations they left. But his name became associated especially with the Bering Land Bridge.
The Bering Strait, 55 miles wide, joins the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. But in the last ice age, its floor was drained sufficiently to yield a plain that big-game hunters were able to cross into North America.
Dr. Hopkins edited and contributed to "The Bering Land Bridge," an anthology, published in 1967, that remains in print. He was a co-editor and contributor to "Paleoecology of Beringia" (1982), a book about an area referring to the two shores of the Bering Sea.
Born in Nashua, N.H., he graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1942. He received his master's (1948) and doctorate (1955) from Harvard.
He worked as a research scientist for the United States Geological Survey from 1942 to 1984, based in Washington and Menlo Park. From then until his retirement in 1994, he was a professor at the University of Alaska.
He was among the first American scientists to work cooperatively with counterparts in the Soviet Union, and Dr. Hopkins worked there as an exchange fellow of the National Academy of Sciences in 1969. This permitted him to carry on his field studies in Siberia.
He was a lifelong member of a wide range of ecological, social and human rights organizations.
Dr. Hopkins is survived by his wife of 31 years, Rachel Chouinard Hopkins; two daughters and a son from previous marriages, Dana Hopkins of Palo Alto, Calif., Dr. Chindi Peavey of Castro Valley, Calif., and Alexander, of Reno, Nev.; three stepsons, Vincent Stanley of Santa Barbara, Calif., Christopher Stanley of Bainbridge Island, Wash., and Gregory Stanley of Fairfield, Calif.; a brother, Dr. Daniel Hopkins of St. Charles, Mo.; a sister, Dona White of Elephant Butte Lake, N.M.; and eight grandchildren.
His first wife, Joan Prewitt Hopkins, died in 1955. His second marriage, to Martha Bryant Hopkins, ended in divorce.
NY Times obit
Pierre Bourdieu, Leading French Thinker, Dies at 71
PARIS, Jan 24 -- One of France's leading intellectuals, sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, has died, colleagues said on Thursday. He was 71.
The daily Le Monde said Bourdieu, in recent years a champion of the anti-globalisation movement, had died of cancer at the Saint-Antoine hospital in Paris on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, in a message of condolence, called Bourdieu "a master of contemporary sociology and a great figure in the intellectual life of our country."
A trenchant critic of capitalist society, Bourdieu began his academic career at Algiers University in 1958 when Algerian rebels were fighting for independence from French colonial rule.
His main work, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, published in 1984, remains one of the defining studies of the relationships between consumer behaviour and social class.
He had held the post of Professor of Sociology at the College de France, the country's most prestigious academic institute, since 1981.
Bourdieu, who trained as a philosopher and was also a noted anthropologist, is widely regarded as having profoundly reshaped sociological study since the 1960s.
His writings ranged widely over culture, art, politics, education, the media and literature and were accompanied by political activity and support for working-class struggles that made him an intellectual reference point for the left.
Bourdieu was born in Denguin in southwest France on August 1, 1930.
NY Times obit
Robert K. Merton, Versatile Sociologist and Father of the Focus Group, Dies at 92
By MICHAEL T. KAUFMAN
Robert K. Merton, one of the most influential sociologists of the 20th century, whose coinage of terms like "self-fulfilling prophecy" and "role models" filtered from his academic pursuits into everyday language, died yesterday. He was 92 and lived in Manhattan.
Mr. Merton gained his pioneering reputation as a sociologist of science, exploring how scientists behave and what it is that motivates, rewards, and intimidates them. By laying out his "ethos of science" in 1942, he replaced the entrenched stereotypical views that had long held scientists to be eccentric geniuses largely unbound by rules or norms. It was this body of work that contributed to Mr. Merton's becoming the first sociologist to win a National Medal of Science in 1994.
But his explorations over 70-odd years extended across an extraordinary range of interests that included the workings of the mass media, the anatomy of racism, the social perspectives of "insiders" vs. "outsiders," history, literature and etymology. Though carried out with the detachment he admired in Emile Durkheim, the French architect of modern sociology, Mr. Merton's inquiries often bore important consequences in real life as well as in academics.
His studies on an integrated community helped shape Kenneth Clark's historic brief in Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court case that led to the desegregation of public schools. His adoption of the focused interview to elicit the responses of groups to texts, radio programs and films led to the "focus groups" that politicians, their handlers, marketers and hucksters now find indispensable. Long after he had helped devise the methodology, Mr. Merton deplored its abuse and misuse but added, "I wish I'd get a royalty on it."
He spent much of his professional life at Columbia University, where along with his collaborator of 35 years, Paul F. Lazarsfeld, who died in 1976, he developed the Bureau of Applied Social Research, where the early focus groups originated. The course of his career paralleled the growth and acceptance of sociology as a bona fide academic discipline. As late as 1939 there were fewer than a 1,000 sociologists in the United States, but soon after Mr. Merton was elected president of the American Sociological Association in 1957, the group had 4,500 members.
Mr. Merton was sometimes called "Mr. Sociology," and Jonathan R. Cole, a former student and the provost at Columbia, once said, "If there were a Nobel Prize in sociology, there would be no question he would have gotten it." (Mr. Merton's son, Robert C. Merton, won a Nobel Prize in economics in 1997.)
Another of Mr. Merton's contributions to sociology was his emphasis on what he termed "theories of the middle range." By these he meant undertakings that steered clear of grand speculative and abstract doctrines while also avoiding pedantic inquiries that were unlikely to yield significant results. What he preferred were initiatives that might yield findings of consequence and that open lines of further inquiry. In his own writings he favored the essay form, "which provides scope for asides and correlatives," he said, over the more common and streamlined scientific paper.
He was often came up with clearly phrased observations that combined originality with seeming simplicity. Eugene Garfield, an information scientist, wrote that much of Mr. Merton's work was "so transparently true that one can't imagine why no one else has bothered to point it out."
One early example of such illuminating insight appeared in a paper called "Social Structure and Anomie" that he wrote as a graduate student at Harvard in 1936 and then kept revising over the next decade.
Mr. Merton had asked himself what it was that brought about anomie, a state in which, according to Mr. Durkheim, the breakdown of social standards threatened social cohesion. In a breakthrough that spawned many lines of inquiry, Mr. Merton suggested that anomie was likely to arise when society's members were denied adequate means of achieving the very cultural goals that their society projected, like wealth, power, fame or enlightenment. Among the spinoffs of this work were Mr. Merton's own writings on the ranges of deviant behavior and crime.
A tall, pipe-smoking scholar, Mr. Merton often used the trajectory of his life story, from slum to academic achievement, as material illustrating the workings of serendipity, chance and coincidence, which so long fascinated him.
Robert King Merton was born Meyer R. Schkolnick on July 4, 1910, in South Philadelphia; he carried that name for the first 14 years of his life. He was the son of immigrants from Eastern Europe and lived in an apartment above his father's milk, butter and egg store until the building burned down. As a teenager performing magic tricks at birthday parties, he adopted Robert Merlin as a stage name, but when a friend convinced him that his choice of the ancient wizard's name was hackneyed, he modified it, adopting Merton with the concurrence of his Americanizing mother after he won a scholarship to Temple University.
In a lecture to the American Council of Learned Societies in 1994, Mr. Merton said that thanks to the libraries, schools, orchestras to which he had access, and even to the youth gang he had joined, his early years had prepared him well for what he called a life of learning. "My fellow sociologists will have noticed," he said, "how that seemingly deprived South Philadelphia slum was providing a youngster with every sort of capital — social capital, cultural capital, human capital, and above all, what we may call public capital — that is, with every sort of capital except the personally financial." It is not difficult to see connections between such views and Mr. Merton's insights into the causes of anomie.
In a 1961 New Yorker magazine profile by Morton Hunt, Mr. Merton was described as displaying "a surprising catholicity of interests and a talent for good conversation, impaired only slightly by the fact that he is alarmingly well informed about everything from baseball to Kant and is unhesitatingly ready to tell anybody about any or all of it."
Indeed, what is Mr. Merton's most widely known book, "On the Shoulders of Giants," went far beyond the confines of sociology. Referred to by Mr. Merton as his "prodigal brainchild," it reveals the depth of his curiosity, the breadth of his prodigious research and the extraordinary patience that also characterize his academic writing. The effort began in 1942, when, in an essay called "A Note on Science and Democracy," Mr. Merton referred to a remark by Isaac Newton: "If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." He added a footnote pointing out that "Newton's aphorism is a standardized phrase which has found repeated expression from at least the 12th century."
But Mr. Merton did not stop there. Intermittently during the next 23 years he tracked the aphorism back in time, following blind alleys as well as fruitful avenues and finally finished the book in 1965, writing in a discursive style that the author attributed to his early reading and subsequent rereadings of Laurence Sterne's "Tristram Shandy." Denis Donoghue, the critic and literary scholar, wrote of the book admiringly as "an eccentric and yet concentric work of art, a work sufficiently flexible to allow a digression every 10 pages or so." He admitted, "I wish I had written `On the Shoulders of Giants.' "
More recently, over the last three and a half decades, Mr. Merton had been gathering information about the idea and workings of serendipity, and thinking about it in the same spirit in which he had written the earlier book, which he liked to call by its acronym, OTSOG. As he had done with all his investigations, he collated and pondered data he had entered on index cards. Most days he started work at 4:30 a.m., with some of his 15 cats keeping him company. During the last years of his life, as he fought and overcame six different cancers, his Italian publisher, Il Mulino, prevailed on him to allow them to issue his writings on serendipity as a book. And four days before his death, his wife, the sociologist Harriet Zuckerman, received word that Princeton University Press had approved publication of the English version under the title, "The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity."
In addition to Ms. Zuckerman and his son, Mr. Merton is survived by two daughters, Stephanie Tombrello of Pasadena, Calif., and Vanessa Merton of Hastings-on-Hudson; nine grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
CCC Metro TLC
NY Times obit
March 9, 2003
Herbert Passin, 86, a Scholar on Japan, Dies
By PAUL LEWIS
Herbert Passin, a distinguished scholar of Japan, who was chairman of Columbia University's sociology department and taught at its East Asian Institute, died on Feb. 26 in New York. He was 86.
The cause of death was heart disease, according to his stepson, Scott Latham.
Professor Passin was also a consultant on United States-Japanese issues to two Japanese prime ministers, Yasuhiro Nakasone and Noboru Takeshita, as well as to many American and Japanese foundations and corporations.
He was born in Chicago on Dec. 16, 1916, and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1936 with a bachelor's degree in genetics. He received a bachelor's and a master's degree in anthropology from Northwestern University in 1941, before teaching there. After the United States entered World War II, he was sent to learn Japanese at an Army language school in preparation for the occupation.
He arrived in Tokyo in December 1945 and worked in Gen. Douglas MacArthur's headquarters as chief of the Public Opinion and Sociological Research Division, dealing mainly with land reform and labor policy.
After the war, he held positions at the University of California, the Social Science Research Council in Japan and Ohio State University.
From 1954 to 1957, he was Far Eastern representative for the international magazine Encounter, based in Tokyo.
After a stint with the Congress of Cultural Freedom in Paris, he was a visiting professor at the University of Washington in Seattle from 1959 until 1962, when he moved to Columbia as a professor of sociology. He was chairman of the department from 1973 to 1977.
In 1967, he had helped found the Shimoda Conference, which brought together scores of American and Japanese government officials, and business and academic leaders to discuss United States-Japanese issues at the site of Commodore Matthew Perry's 1853 landing in Japan. He also helped establish the first parliamentary exchange program between Washington and Tokyo.
From 1969 to 1970, he was editor in chief of the first Japanese edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Professor Passin wrote and edited numerous books about Japan in both English and Japanese, including "The United States and Japan" (Prentice-Hall, 1966); "Japanese and the Japanese: Japanese Culture Seen Through the Japanese Language" (Kinseido, 1980); and "Encounter with Japan" (Kodansha International, 1982.)
He is survived by his wife, Helen; his brother, Sidney, of Austerlitz, N.Y.; a son, Thomas, of Reston, Va.; a stepson, Scott Latham of Chester Springs, Pa.; and four grandchildren.
CCC Metro TLC