Tax, Sol


Tax, Sol
▪ 1996

      U.S. anthropologist (b. Oct. 30, 1907, Chicago, Ill.—d. Jan. 4, 1995, Chicago), was instrumental in establishing anthropology as a global discipline, especially as the founding editor (1957-74) of Current Anthropology, an international journal devoted to the exchange of ideas and discussion of important issues in the field. He was also an expert on the cultures of North and Middle American Indians, especially the Fox (Mesquakie) and Sauk. From 1948 to 1962 he served as director of the Fox Indian Project in Tama, Iowa, and he was coordinator of the 1961 American Indian Chicago Conference, at which some 700 Native Americans from more than 80 tribes drafted a "Declaration of Indian Purpose." The document urged the government to respect native customs and to include Native Americans in economic and social development projects. Tax received a Ph.D. (1935) from the University of Chicago and was an ethnologist (1934-48) for the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C. At the University of Chicago he served as a research associate (1940-44), associate professor (1944-48), and professor of anthropology from 1948 until his retirement in 1974. He was also department chairman (1955-58) and dean (1963-68) of the University Extension. Tax conducted anthropological studies in Guatemala, Mexico (training a number of anthropologists there), and the U.S., where he established "action anthropology." This approach was meant to incorporate the work of anthropologists in matters of practical concern and involve them in solving the problems identified by the people they were studying. Tax was president of the American Anthropological Association (1958-59) and was the recipient in 1962 of the Viking Fund Medal and Award for his outstanding anthropological achievements. His writings include Heritage of Conquest: The Ethnology of Middle America (1952; with others), Penny Capitalism: A Guatemalan Indian Economy (1953), and contributions to Encyclopædia Britannica's Yearbook of Science and the Future.

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▪ American anthropologist
born Oct. 30, 1907, Chicago, Ill., U.S.
died Jan. 4, 1995, Chicago

      American cultural anthropologist who founded the journal Current Anthropology. He was also known for the Fox Project, a study of the culture of the Fox and Sauk Indians.

      Tax received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (1935), where he was a professor from 1944 until his retirement. He pioneered the use of “transactional analysis” in his study of the Omaha kinship pattern among the Fox. During his work with the Fox (Mesquakie) Indians from 1948 to 1962, he became convinced that the influence of the anthropologist's presence among them deserved not only to be further studied but to be directed toward the benefit of the native peoples. His work led him to champion what he called “action anthropology,” directed at enabling communities to accomplish their goals as well as to work to develop a pan-tribal organization and to help Native American peoples to preserve their cultural identity.

      Throughout his career Tax participated in numerous anthropological societies. In 1959 he served as president of the American Anthropological Association. Tax was founder and, from 1960 to 1974, general editor of Current Anthropology: A World Journal of the Sciences of Man; he established the journal as a means of international communication among anthropologists during the Cold War. He also helped coordinate and served as chairman of the National Anthropology Film Center. Among the publications that he edited are Heritage of Conquest: The Ethnology of Middle America (1952), An Appraisal of Anthropology Today (1953), Evolution after Darwin, 3 vol. (1960), Anthropology Today—Selections (1962), and Horizons of Anthropology (1964).

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Universalium. 2010.

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