(1905-1999)  Anthropologist, Generalist, Social Critic, Humanist

An entirely unique individual, Ashley Montagu (born Israel Ehrenberg) was spurred at an early age to understand the apparent brutality of people to one another.  He resolved to study the phenomenon of love itself, which would become his constant focus point throughout his life.  Montagu worked alongside such prestigious scientists as anatomist Sir Arthur Keith and befriended such prominent scholars as Albert Einstein.  He was Bronislaw Malinowski's first student and he was also a student of Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict and received a PhD in Anthropology under their tutelage.  He taught anatomy for 20 years and later became the the Chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University.  Although he was born in London, England, he became a legal U.S. citizen in 1940.

Montagu is credited with itemize the embryology of the upper jaw, which is now employed by surgeons everywhere to repair cleft palate.  He stressed the value of nurturing, the importance of love, intelligence, education and equality; often his declaration of these values were affirmed long before they became popular ideas.

Popular quotes by Montagu: 

"Man is the only 150 pound non-linear servo mechanism that can be wholly reproduced by unskilled labor."

"For human beings the trait that will always remain the most adaptively valuable in the struggle for existence is the ability to love."

Among his influential works:

It is worthy to mention that Montagu kept busy up until his death, working on reprinting his works and adding forwards, epilogues and prologues to a few of them.

Montagu spoke at the university I work at some decades ago; my mentor/anthropology instructor (who himself is a prominent fellow in the field) related the experience to me.  After the lecture Montagu visited the anthropology club here and spoke with them at length; it was an extremely enjoyable and engaging experience.

He once appeared in an X-Files episode: the season finale two-parter when Mulder "commits suicide."  Mulder is watching a televised debate about the probability of extra-terrestrial life in the universe in which Montagu is featured among the panel of apparent experts.

source for some of this piece: www.montagu.org/ashley.htm

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.