Edmund (“Ted”) Snow Carpenter (1922-2011)

09Dec11

The death earlier this year of Ted Carpenter was previously reported upon. This obituary notice by Harald Prins recently appeared on Anthropology News:-


Edmund Carpenter

Edmund Snow Carpenter

Edmund Snow Carpenter, 88-year old adventurer and pioneer in media studies, died July 1, 2011 on Long Island after a debilitating illness. He began as an archaeologist but was better known as a specialist on tribal art, in particular by Arctic peoples. Born in Rochester, NY, 1922, “Ted” enrolled at Penn where he studied under Frank Speck. As a 20-year old sophomore, he joined the US Marine Corps and served as an infantry combat officer in the Solomon Islands and at Iwo Jima. In 1946, he left the Marianas and returned to Penn where he completed his undergraduate studies.

Two years before defending his thesis on Iroquoian prehistoric archaeology in 1950, he began teaching at the University of Toronto where he teamed up with Marshall McLuhan, a fellow iconoclast. He did fieldwork among the Aivilingmiut at Southampton Island in 1950, returning to this Iglulik subgroup again in the famine winter of 1951–52, and in 1955. An early public anthropologist, he also produced and hosted a weekly CBC radio show that turned into a television program. With McLuhan, he obtained a major Ford Foundation grant for an interdisciplinary media research project (1953–55) and co-taught a course on how print, radio and television transform human relations and perceptions. Together hatching their core ideas about the role of mass communication in culture change, they co-edited the interdisciplinary periodicalExplorations and published a selection of its articles in Explorations in Communication(1960).

In 1959, Carpenter published his book Eskimo, left Toronto and became founding chair of an experimental interdisciplinary program of anthropology and art at California State University-Northridge. Collaborating with colleagues, he made several films, includingGeorgia Sea Island Singers (1964), documenting Gullah songs and dances from St Simon Island. Having remained in close contact with McLuhan with whom he collaborated onUnderstanding Media (1964), Carpenter rejoined his old friend at Fordham University (1967–68). Next, after a year as Carnegie Chair at UC Santa Cruz, he took a research professorship at the University of Papua & New Guinea, advising the Australian government on introducing mass media in recently-contacted indigenous communities. After returning to the US, he published They Became What They Beheld (1970), followed by Eskimo Realities (1973) and his most famous book, Oh, What a Blow that Phantom Gave Me! (1976)

An extraordinary teacher, Carpenter taught at Adelphi, Harvard, New School, and New York U during the next dozen years, and completed Social Symbolism in Ancient & Tribal Art, a 12-volume study on the researches of Carl Schuster, soon followed by Patterns That Connect (1996) and other publications. Drawn to the solitude of the Arctic until his dying day, he was involved in archaeological excavations in northern Siberia financed by the Rock Foundation. In 2008, his avant-garde exhibit on Arctic indigenous art opened at the Quai Branly museum in Paris, moving to Houston earlier this year.

Carpenter leaves behind three sons, his wife Adelaide de Menil, and friends across the globe. Many treasure his stories often revealing profound anthropological insights and sometimes hinting at deeper truths. (Harald EL Prins)  http://tinyurl.com/bo32vy8

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2 Responses to “Edmund (“Ted”) Snow Carpenter (1922-2011)”

  1. “If Wittgenstein Had Been an Eskimo”
    an essay by EDMUND CARPENTER

    http://www.anderbo.com/anderbo1/aessay-04.html

    (“If Wittgenstein Had Been an Eskimo” originally appeared in the February 1980 issue of the magazine Natural History.)
    Edmund “Ted” Snow Carpenter (September 2, 1922—July 1, 2011) was an anthropologist best known for his work on tribal art and visual media.
    His 2011 book UPSIDE DOWN: Arctic Realities is distributed for The Menil Collection of Houston by Yale University Press.

  2. “If Wittgenstein Had Been an Eskimo”
    an essay by EDMUND CARPENTER

    http://www.anderbo.com/anderbo1/aessay-04.html

     (“If Wittgenstein Had Been an Eskimo” originally appeared in the February 1980 issue of the magazine Natural History.)

    Edmund “Ted” Snow Carpenter (September 2, 1922—July 1, 2011) was an anthropologist best known for his work on tribal art and visual media.
    His 2011 book UPSIDE DOWN: Arctic Realities is distributed for The Menil Collection of Houston by Yale University Press.


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