Ashley Montagu

Ashley Montagu
Ashley Montagu

Ashley Montagu
Born June 28, 1905
London, England
Died 26 November 1999
Princeton, New Jersey, United States
Nationality England
Fields anthropology

Montague Francis Ashley Montagu (born Israel Ehrenberg on June 28, 1905, London, Great Britain - died November 26, 1999, Princeton, New Jersey, United States) was a British-American anthropologist and humanist, of Jewish ancestry, who popularized topics such as race and gender and their relation to politics and development. He was the rapporteur (appointed investigator), during 1950, for the UNESCO statement The Race Question. As a young man he changed his name to "Montague Francis Ashley-Montagu". After relocating to the United States he used the name "Ashley Montagu".


Life and career

According to a 1995 interview by Leonard Lieberman, Andrew Lyons and Hariet Lyons in the publication Current Anthropology, Montagu grew up in London's East End. He claimed that he was often subjected to antisemitic abuse when he ventured from his own Jewish neighborhood. He developed an interest in anatomy very early and as a boy was befriended by Arthur Keith. During 1922, at the age of 17, he entered University College London, where he received a diploma in psychology after studying with Karl Pearson and Charles Spearman and taking anthropology courses with Grafton Elliot Smith and Charles Gabriel Seligman. He also studied at the London School of Economics, where he became one of the first students of Bronisław Malinowski. He did postgraduate work at Columbia University in New York, where he produced a dissertation during 1936 entitled Coming into being among the Australian Aborigines: A study of the procreative beliefs of the native tribes of Australia which was supervised by cultural anthropologist Ruth Benedict.[1] He taught anatomy at various schools in the United States before becoming a professor of anthropology at Rutgers from 1949 until 1955.

During the 1950s Montagu published a series of works questioning the validity of race as a biological concept, including the UNESCO Statement on Race and his very well known Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race. He was opposed particularly to the work of Carleton S. Coon. During 1952, together with William Vogt, he gave the first Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture, inaugurating the series.

Due to political disputes concerning Montagu's involvement with the UNESCO Statement on Race, he was dismissed from Rutgers University and "found all other academic avenues blocked."[2] He retired from his academic career during 1955 and relocated to Princeton, New Jersey to continue his popular writing and public appearances. He became a well-known guest of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. He addressed his numerous published studies of the significant relationship of mother and infant to the general public. The humanizing effects of touch informed the studies of isolation-reared monkeys and adult pathological violence that is the subject of his Time-Life documentary "Rock A Bye Baby" (1970).

Later in life, Montagu actively opposed genital modification and mutilation of children. During 1994, James Prescott, Ph.D., wrote the Ashley Montagu Resolution to End the Genital Mutilation of Children Worldwide: A Petition to the World Court, The Hague, named in honor of Dr. Montagu, who was one of its original signers.

During 1995, the American Humanist Association named him the Humanist of the Year.

Montagu, who became a naturalized American citizen during 1940, taught and lectured at Harvard, Princeton University, Rutgers University, the University of California, and New York University.[3] He wrote over 60 books.

Anthropologist Dr. Stephen Juan is the Ashley Montagu Fellow for the Public Understanding of Human Sciences at the University of Sydney.

Partial bibliography

  • Science and Creationism 1984
  • Life Before Birth
  • Touching: The Human Significance of The Skin 1971
  • On Being Human
  • The Direction of Human Development: Biological and Social Bases
  • Culture and human development
  • The Nature of Human Aggression
  • The Natural Superiority of Women
  • . (1989), Growing Young (2nd ed.), Westport, Connecticut: Bergin & Garvey, ISBN 0-89789-166-X,, retrieved 16 September 2010 
  • Race and IQ
  • Living and Loving
  • The Anatomy of Swearing
  • The Human Connection
  • The Peace of The World
  • Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race (1942)
  • Human Evolution
  • Anthropology and Human Nature
  • The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity. (1942)
  • The Cultured Man
  • Man: His first Million Years
  • Human Heredity

Montagu wrote the Foreword and Bibliography of the 1955 edition (reprinted 2005) of Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution by Petr Kropotkin, and in 1956, he edited Toynbee and History: Critical Essays and Reviews (1956 Cloth ed.). Boston: Extending Horizons Books, Porter Sargent Publishers. ISBN 0-87558-026-2. , a critique of Arnold J. Toynbee's seminal A Study of History.

He is co-author with Floyd Matson of The Human Connection and The Dehumanization of Man. He is the writer and director of the film One World or None, described as one of the best documentaries ever made.


  • "Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof".
  • "The idea is to die young as late as possible".
  • "... circumcision, an archaic ritual mutilation that has no justification whatever and no place in a civilized society" — in Mutilated Humanity
  • "The family unit is the institution for the systematic production of mental illness" - said to Johnny Carson during an appearance on the Tonight Show promoting the reissue of the hardbound edition of his book The Natural Superiority of Women.
  • "The Eskimos live among ice all their lives but have no single word for ice." - from Man: His first Million Years, this quote begins the penultimate chapter of Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan
  • "The world is so full of wonderful things we should all, if we were taught how to appreciate it, be far richer than kings". Ashley Montagu. Growing Young (Granby, MA: Bergin & Garvey, 1989), p. 120.
  • "The ability to play is one of the principal criteria of mental health"* Ashley Montaque The Universal Nature of Play

Footage of Ashley Montagu

Footage of Ashley Montagu talking with Charlton Heston about his character in the movie appears as a bonus in the special DVD edition of The Omega Man. Archive footage of him, among others (including Carl Sagan), is also featured in The X-Files episode Gethsemane.

See also


  1. ^ Reference: Marks, J. (2008). Chapter 14: Race Across the Physical-Cultural Divide in American Anthropology. A New History of Anthropology. H. Kuklick, Blackwell.
  2. ^ Reference: Marks, J. (2008). Chapter 14: Race Across the Physical-Cultural Divide in American Anthropology. A New History of Anthropology. H. Kuklick, Blackwell.
  3. ^

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ashley Montagu — (geboren als Israel Ehrenberg; * 28. Juni 1905 in London, Großbritannien; † 26. November 1999 in Princeton, New Jersey), war ein britisch amerikanischer Anthropologe und Humanist. Bekannt wurde er unter anderem für seine Veröffentlichungen über… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ashley Montagu — (né le 28 juin 1905 à Londres et décédé le 26 novembre 1999 à Princeton dans le New Jersey) était un anthropologue et humaniste anglais. Sommaire 1 Biographie 2 Publications …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ashley Montagu — noun United States anthropologist (born in England) who popularized anthropology (1905 ) • Syn: ↑Montagu • Instance Hypernyms: ↑anthropologist …   Useful english dictionary

  • Ashley Montagu — Amor El amor es la fuerza más importante en el desarrollo de nuestra vida física, emotiva y espiritual …   Diccionario de citas

  • Ashley Montagu Resolution — The Ashley Montagu Resolution refers to the petition to the World Court to end the genital modification and mutilation of children worldwide. Endorsement of the petition also includes the 1989 Universal Declaration on Circumcision, Excision, and… …   Wikipedia

  • Lady Ashley Montagu — The Lady Ashley Faith Maxine Nell Montagu (born 16 June 1999) is the only daughter of the 13th Duke of Manchester …   Wikipedia

  • Montagu — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Ashley Montagu (1905–1999), britisch US amerikanischer Anthropologe Edward Montagu, 1. Earl of Sandwich (1625–1672), britischer Admiral und Politiker Edward Douglas Scott Montagu, 3. Baron Montagu of… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Montagu — Not to be confused with Montague. Montagu may refer to: Contents 1 People with the surname 2 Titles of nobility 3 …   Wikipedia

  • Montagu, Ashley — ▪ 2000 Israel Ehrenberg        British American anthropologist, humanist, and writer (b. June 28, 1905, London, Eng. d. Nov. 26, 1999, Princeton, N.J.), popularized science and presented humanitarian issues on topics as varied as evolution,… …   Universalium

  • Ashley (name) — Infobox Given name 2 name = Ashley imagesize= caption= pronunciation= gender = Male, Female meaning = Ash tree meadow region = origin = English related names = footnotes =The name Ashley is of English origin, from a place name and surname that… …   Wikipedia

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