peoplepill id: reo-fortune
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Reo Fortune

Reo Fortune

New Zealand anthropologist
Reo Fortune
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro New Zealand anthropologist
Was Mathematician Anthropologist Academic
From United States of America New Zealand
Type Education Mathematics Social science
Gender male
Birth 27 March 1903, New Zealand, New Zealand
Death 25 November 1979 (aged 76 years)
Star sign Aries
Spouse: Margaret Mead
Peoplepill ID reo-fortune
The details


Reo Fortune

Reo Franklin Fortune (27 March 1903 – 25 November 1979) was a New Zealand-born social anthropologist. Originally trained as a psychologist, Fortune was a student of the major theorists of British and American social anthropology including Alfred Cort Haddon, Bronislaw Malinowski and Alfred Radcliffe-Brown. He lived an international life, holding various academic and government positions in China (Lingnan University; 1937–39), the United States (Toledo; 1940–41), Canada (Toronto; 1941–43), Burma (government anthropologist; 1946–47), and finally, in the United Kingdom as lecturer in social anthropology at Cambridge University from 1947 to 1971, as a specialist in Melanesian language and culture.

He was first married to Margaret Mead in 1928, with whom he undertook field studies in New Guinea from 1931 to 1933. They divorced in 1936. Fortune subsequently married Eileen Pope, also a New Zealander, in 1937.

Fortune provided significant insights into the consequences of matrilateral and patrilateral cross-cousin marriage in advance of work by Claude Levi-Strauss. He is also known for his contribution to mathematics with his study of Fortunate numbers in number theory.

The 2014 novel Euphoria by Lily King is a fictionalized account of the relationships between Fortune, Mead and Gregory Bateson in pre-WWII New Guinea.

Selected publications

  • 1927, The Mind in Sleep. Kegan Paul.
  • 1932, Sorcerers of Dobu. Routledge.
  • 1932, Omaha Secret Societies. Columbia University Press.
  • 1933, A note on some forms of kinship structure. Oceania, 4(1), 1–9.
  • 1935, Manus Religion, An ethnological study of the Manus natives of the Admiralty Islands. American Philosophical Press.
  • 1942, Arapesh. American Ethnological Society Publication 19; 237 pages.


Many of the easily accessible images of Fortune include his one-time wife Margaret Mead, who was known for her interest in photography as an ethnographic method.

The National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa) holds a large collection of family and fieldwork photos of Reo and Eileen Fortune's lives in China, North America, and England.

In 1959 and again in 1970–71, Fortune revisited Dobu, the island community he made famous in his 1932 book, The Sorcerers of Dobu.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 21 Jun 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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