Morton Fried
Morton Herbert Fried was a distinguished Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

 of Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 at Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 from 1950 until his death in 1986. He made considerable contributions to the fields of social
Social theory
Social theories are theoretical frameworks which are used to study and interpret social phenomena within a particular school of thought. An essential tool used by social scientists, theories relate to historical debates over the most valid and reliable methodologies , as well as the primacy of...

 and political theory.

Fried attended Townsend Harris High School
Townsend Harris High School
Townsend Harris High School is a public magnet high school for the humanities in the borough of Queens in New York City. Students and alumni often refer to themselves as "Harrisites." Townsend Harris consistently ranks as among the top 100 High Schools in the United States. It currently operates as...

 and then the City College of New York
City College of New York
The City College of the City University of New York is a senior college of the City University of New York , in New York City. It is also the oldest of the City University's twenty-three institutions of higher learning...

. At City College, he was originally an English major but changed to anthropology. While a student at CCNY, Fried and his friend Richard F. Shepard formed the Mundial Upheaval Society, which later flourished at Columbia University.

Fried served in the U.S. Army during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, after one year of graduate work in anthropology at Columbia. In the Army, he was sent to Harvard to learn Chinese and he went on to specialize in the anthropology of China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, earning his Ph.D. at Columbia in 1951. He did fieldwork in 1947,'48 in Anhwei Province, China, and published his research in The Fabric of Chinese Society (1953).

His Mentors were Julian Steward
Julian Steward
Julian Haynes Steward was an American anthropologist best known for his role in developing "the concept and method" of cultural ecology, as well as a scientific theory of culture change.-Early life and education:...

 and Karl Wittfogel.

His cohort included Elman Service
Elman Service
Elman Rogers Service was an American cultural anthropologist.- Biography :He was born on May 18, 1915 in Tecumseh, Michigan and died on November 14, 1996 in Santa Barbara, California. He earned a Bachelors Degree in 1941 from the University of Michigan. He earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology from...

, Eric Wolf
Eric Wolf
Eric Robert Wolf was an anthropologist, best known for his studies of peasants, Latin America, and his advocacy of Marxian perspectives within anthropology.-Early life:...

, Sidney Mintz
Sidney Mintz
Sidney Wilfred Mintz is an anthropologist best known for his studies of Latin America and the Caribbean. Mintz studied at Brooklyn College earning his B.A in 1943. He got his doctoral degree from Columbia University under the supervision of Julian Steward and Ruth Benedict...

 and Stanley Diamond
Stanley Diamond
Stanley Diamond was an American poet and anthropologist. As a young man, he identified as a poet, and his disdain for the fascism of the 1930s greatly influenced his thinking....

. His first graduate teaching assistant was Marvin Harris
Marvin Harris
Marvin Harris was an American anthropologist. He was born in Brooklyn, New York. A prolific writer, he was highly influential in the development of cultural materialism...

 and his first graduate student was Marshall Sahlins
Marshall Sahlins
Marshall David Sahlins is a prominent American anthropologist. He received both a Bachelors and Masters degree at the University of Michigan where he studied with Leslie White, and earned his Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1954 where his main intellectual influences included Karl Polanyi and...


He taught one semester at Yale University during the All Term of 1965. He was a visiting Professor at the University of Michigan for one year, 1960-61.
He married Martha Nemes, and the couple had two children, Nancy Fried Foster, an anthropologist and Elman Steven Fried, a writer and filmmaker.

Select bibliography

  • Fried, Morton H. 1959. Readings in anthropology. New York: Crowell.
  • Fried, Morton H. 1960. On the evolution of social stratificiation and the state. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.
  • Fried, Morton. 1965. "A Four Letter Word that Hurts." SATURDAY REVIEW, October 2,. 1965
  • Fried, Morton H. 1967. The evolution of political society an essay in political anthropology. Random House studies in anthropology, AS 7. New York: Random House.
  • American Anthropological Association, Morton H. Fried, Marvin Harris, and Robert Francis Murphy. 1968. War: the anthropology of armed conflict and aggression. Garden City, N.Y.: Published for the American Museum of Natural History [by] the Natural History Press.
  • Fried, Morton H. 1969. Fabric of Chinese society; a study of the social life of a Chinese county seat. New York: Octagon Books.
  • Fried, Morton H. 1975. The notion of tribe. Menlo Park, Calif: Cummings Pub. Co.
  • Fried, Martha Nemes, and Morton H. Fried. 1980. Transitions: four rituals in eight cultures. New York: Norton.
  • Fried, Morton H. 1987. Reflections on Christianity in China. AMERICAN ETHNOLOGIST 14:1, Frontiers of Christian Evangelism, (Feb., 1987): 94-106.
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