Jan. 18, 2001
Vol. 20 No. 8

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    Manning Nash dies at 76

    Manning Nash, Professor in Anthropology and a specialist in the study of the modernization of developing nations in Latin America and Asia, died Tuesday, Dec. 12, in the University Hospitals. Nash was 76.

    “What was remarkable about Manning’s work was the breadth and range of his fieldwork. Few anthropologists work in as many countries as he did,” said George Stocking, the Stein-Freiler Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Anthropology.

    According to Ralph Nicholas, the William Rainey Harper Professor Emeritus in Anthropology, Nash was “among the first anthropologists to recognize that the power of the state and the large corporation would have an overwhelming influence on the fate of tribal and village-dwelling people drawn into national societies. By the late 1950s, he had created an intellectual framework for comprehending the processes of economic and social modernization in what later came to be called ‘Third World’ countries.”

    Ray Fogelson, Professor in Anthropology and in the Committee on Human Development, spoke of Nash as “a pioneer in bringing an anthropological presence and perspective into business schools.”

    Nash received a B.A. from Temple University in 1949, and then came to Chicago to study anthropology. His master’s thesis was based on interviews he did in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood and was titled “Rural to Urban Negro Migrants’ Attitudes Toward Civil-Political Rights and Religion.” Nash received his A.M. in anthropology in 1952 and a Ph.D. in 1955 from the University, based on extended fieldwork in Guatemala. The first anthropological study of a factory in a Third World country, the research was published in book form in 1958 as Machine Age Maya: The Industrialization of a Guatemalan Community and was translated into Spanish in 1970.

    In 1957, Nash lived for three months among the Tzeltal-speaking Mayan people of Chiapas, in southern Mexico, as part of a National Science Foundation project called “Man in Nature,” which was conducted by University anthropologists. From 1960 to 1961, as a National Science Foundation Fellow, he performed 18 months of fieldwork in upper Burma on social and economic change in the newly independent Buddhist nation. In addition to articles and an edited volume on Therevada Buddhism, he published in 1965, The Golden Road to Modernity: Village Life in Contemporary Burma.

    In the 1960s, Nash carried on fieldwork in Malaysia, focusing on political, economic and social change in the context of an Islamic peasantry in a multiple society, from which emerged Peasant Citizens: Politics, Religion, and Modernization in Kelantan, Malaysia (1974). Although he subsequently conducted fieldwork in 1973 on religious practices in a Mayan community in Belize and among pastoral groups and farmers in Iran in 1977, his major publications were comparative studies, including Primitive and Peasant Economic Systems (1966); Unfinished Agenda: The Dynamics of Modernization in Developing Nations (1984); and The Cauldron of Ethnicity in the Modern World (1989).

    After receiving his Ph.D., Nash was a member of the faculties at the University of California in Los Angeles and the University of Washington, Seattle. In 1957, he returned to Chicago as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the Graduate School of Business, and then became a member of the Anthropology Department in 1968, serving as its Chairman from 1988 to 1991. During the 1960s, Nash was a member of the University’s Committee on the Comparative Study of New Nations, which studied the emergence of new countries in the wake of the fall of colonialism.

    From 1958 to 1963, he was editor of Economic Development and Cultural Change, a journal on emerging nations published by the University Press.

    During his years at Chicago, Nash also served as a visiting professor at Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University in Israel from 1973 to 1974, and at Boston University in 1976. He retired from teaching in 1994, and is survived by a son, Eric, of New York.