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Roy "Skip" Rappaport

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 4 months ago

Roy A. “Skip” Rappaport (1926-1997)

American Socio-cultural Anthropologist



Functionalist theory makes cultural phenomena easy to understand.


Maybe function is a too easy explanation – people aren’t automatons responding to stimuli.

Special Skills:

President of the American Anthropological Association. Is not the Rappaport of the mid-nineties film I’m Not Rappaport.

Sign:  Aries

Conducted the majority of his research in the highlands of Papua New Guinea with the Tsembaga Maring people, concluding that the rituals surrounding kaiko (ritualized pig feast) served multiple functions – to keep pig herds manageable, provide a high-protein diet for warfare, and hold society together.  This functionalist approach was criticized for not taking individual persons into account when explaining cultural phenomena.  Later in life, Rappaport presided over the Anthropology department at the University of Michigan and the American Anthropological Association where he advocated for applied or “engaged” anthropology until his death from cancer in 1997.  In his posthumous, comprehensive book on religion, Rappaport proposes religion is a structure humans invent to handle deception and uncertainty.

Selctive Bibliography:

Pigs for the Ancestors (Yale University Press, 1968)

Ecology, Meaning, and Religion (North Atlantic Books, 1979)

Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity (Cambridge University Press, 1999) 

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