Skip to main content

Virginia Young

Lecturer, Emerita

Ph.D. Columbia University 1953


Plural societies, biculturalism, Southeast Asian Chinese, Caribbean, Asian America, history of anthropology.

1926 - 2014

Daily Progress: Obituary for Virginia Young

Modern cultures have been my subject, first in the enclave community of Chinatown, New York, second in the African American sector of a southern U.S. town, next in a Windward Island Caribbean nation, and in the histories and fictional works of Asian Americans. My theoretical frameworks have been political organization in Chinatown, socialization in African American groups, relations of individual to the polity in the Caribbean, and intergenerational structures of Asian Americans.  These frameworks have been used to focus on forms of individual identity that occur within different cultures. While I was taught a deterministic view of culture by my three very different principal professors, Ruth Benedict, Alfred Kroeber and Julian Steward, I moved toward a much less deterministic view because Chinese and African Americans demonstrated clearly wide variation in individual adaptations to cultural systems. Since retiring from teaching I have written a monograph on Ruth Benedict's thought in the latter part of her career, drawing on her published and unpublished work and on the class lecture notes of four of her students. My study of her late work will be accompanied by texts of five of her courses which I have compiled for a volume, near completion, for the University of Nebraska Press.

Selected Publications

2005 - Ruth Benedict: Beyond Relativity, Beyond Pattern. University of Nebraska Press. 

1993 - Becoming West Indian: Culture, Self and Nation in St. Vincent. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. 

1991 - Vincentian Domestic Culture: Continued Debate.  

Social and Economic Studies 40(4):155-67.

1990 - Household Structure in a West Indian Society.  

Social and Economic Studies 39 (3):147-79.

1981 - A Black American Socialization Pattern  

1974. American Ethnologist 1:405-413.

1981 - Family and Childhood in a Southern Negro Community  

American Anthropologist 72:269-88.

Image removed.1981 - Relations Between Men and Women in Chinese Stories.  

InThe Study of Culture at a Distance. M . Mead and R. Metraux, eds. Pp. 221-234.

 Chicago: University of Chicago Press.