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Geoffrey Gorer and Féral Benga, a Collaboration

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We now expect that an anthropologist's temperament and life experience, including personal and academic relationships with key informants, shape at least to a degree that person's scholarly interest and writing. Geoffrey Gorer and François (Féral) Benga, whose lives crosscut those of a number of leading intellectual and artistic figures of interwar Britain, France, and the USA, offer one example of how ethnographic partnership may come to shape a corner or two of disciplinal history. In 1934, before Margaret Mead encouraged his anthropological career, Gorer toured West Africa with Benga who had come to France from Senegal to perform in the Folies Bergères. Gorer [(1935. Africa Dances: A Book about West African Negroes. New York: Alfred A. Knoft)] published an account of their travels as Africa Dances. This collaboration would shape Gorer's subsequent contributions to the broader contours of culture and personality theory and national character study before and after World War II.
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Keywords: Culture/Personality Theory; Ethnographic Collaboration; Féral Benga; Geoffrey Gorer; Homosexuality

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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