Harris, Marvin,1927–2001, American anthropologist, b. New York City, grad. Columbia (A.B., 1949; Ph.D., 1953). A member of the faculty of Columbia (1952–80), he was chairman of the anthropology dept. (1963–66). He then became a graduate research professor of anthropology at the Univ. of Florida (1981–2000). Harris's major research consisted of community studies in Latin America and ethnologies of Africa. He was very influential in the development of the theory of cultural materialism, believing that human society and culture is shaped by the practical material needs of daily life. His 17 books include Patterns of Race in the Americas (1964), The Rise of Anthropological Theory (1968), Cannibals and Kings (1977), America Now (1981), Cultural Materialism (1979), Good to Eat (1986), Culture, People, Nature (5th ed. 1988), Our Kind (1989), and Theories of Culture in Postmodern Times (1999).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
Harris, Marvin(1927– ) cultural anthropologist, author; born in New York City. He was educated at Columbia University (B.A. 1949; Ph.D. 1953) and joined the faculty there in 1952. He was chairman of the anthropology department at Columbia (1963–66) before becoming professor of anthropology at the University of Florida. Occasionally controversial for his claims, such as that the Aztecs gained much of their necessary protein from eating sacrificial victims, he gained a reputation as a "comparative" anthropologist by studying the findings and issues common to the work of his fellow anthropologists in many areas; he then demonstrated an ability to relate these professional matters to concerns of a broader public in such works as Cannibals and Kings (1957) and Our Kind: Who We Are, Where We Came From, Where Are We Going (1990).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.