Marvin Harris


Born
in New York, The United States
August 18, 1927

Died
October 25, 2001

Genre

Influences


American anthropologist Marvin Harris was born in Brooklyn, New York. A prolific writer, he was highly influential in the development of cultural materialism. In his work he combined Karl Marx's emphasis on the forces of production with Malthus's insights on the impact of demographic factors on other parts of the sociocultural system. Labeling demographic and production factors as infrastructure, Harris posited these factors as key in determining a society's social structure and culture.

Harris' earliest work began in the Boasian tradition of descriptive anthropological fieldwork, but his fieldwork experiences in Mozambique in the late 1950s caused him to shift his focus from ideological features of culture, toward behavioral aspects. His 1
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More books by Marvin Harris…
“I don't see how you can write anything of value if you don't offend someone.”
Marvin Harris

“In many ways the rise of the state was the descent of the world from freedom to slavery”
Marvin Harris, Cannibals and Kings: Origins of Cultures

“Hindus and Westerners alike see in the meat-eating taboos of India a triumph of morals over appetite. This is a dangerous misrepresentation of cultural processes. Hindu vegetarianism was a victory not of spirit over matter but of reproductive over productive forces.”
Marvin Harris, Cannibals and Kings: Origins of Cultures