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W. H. R. Rivers

W. H. R. Rivers is an influential early British anthropologist as well as a unique figure in intellectual history, contributing innovative new ideas to both anthropology's study of culture as well as psychiatry (notably the concept of neurasthenia, or “shell shock” as it was known, based on his studies of wounded veterans returning from World War I).

Here's a short film about Rivers: W. H. Rivers: We are all related.

Here's a funny poem written about anthropology and kinship by someone who knew Rivers:

Anthropological Thoughts

The Doctor took his book in hand

His pen was in his finger

His foot was on a foreign strand –

But there I need not linger.

“Now how,” said he, “if I may ask

About your cousin's mother

Would she attempt the simple task

Of speaking of your brother?

Ah yes, just so, but if she were

Your mother's uncle's sister

How would your cousin's sister's aunt

Address her when she kissed her?

Yes that's a point I meant to add

Your nephew's cousin's father

If he an uncle's sister had

(And neither of the two were mad)

Would he respect her rather?

But if your father's cousin's niece

(His brother's cousin's mother)

Were married to your father's son

Would he be called your brother?

Indeed, now this if it be so

Is very interesting

And really should not be I think

The subject of your jesting.

For if your father's mother's son

Were nephew to your mother

I really cannot understand

Why she should call him 'brother.'”

Alas, Alas, for just before

The doctor's mind could grip her

A shout of laughter issued from

The Cabin of the Skipper.

(Anonymous, Haddon Papers, Envelope 12051)

w._h._r._rivers.txt · Last modified: 2021/06/29 02:31 by