Róheim, Géza, 1891-1953

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Hungarian anthropologist, a pioneer in applying psychoanalytic techniques to the study of cultures. His "ontogenetic theory of culture" is considered a major contribution. Born in Budapest in 1891, educated in Hungary and Germany. Studied psychoanalytic theory under Sandor Ferendzi. Served as the first professor of anthropology at the Univ. of Budapest, 1919-1938. Conducted field work in Australia, Melanesia, and Arizona from 1929 to 1931. Emigrated to the United States in 1938 and opened a private practice in New York City, where he lived until his death in 1953.

From the description of Papers, ca. 1929-ca. 1953. (University of California, San Diego). WorldCat record id: 20533672

From the description of Papers, ca. 1929-ca. 1953 [microform]. (University of Pittsburgh). WorldCat record id: 34514920

Biography

Géza Róheim considered himself a professional anthropologist, although many see his work as an example of the Freudian school of psychoanalytic theory. He is credited as one of the first to apply psychoanalysis to the study of world cultures.

The scion of an affluent Hungarian family, Róheim was born in Budapest in 1891. He took an early interest in literature and history, later receiving formal training in geography and anthropology. In addition, he studied psychoanalytic theory under Sandor Ferenczi, one of the pioneers in the field. Travelling to Germany prior to World War I, Róheim pursued his professional education in anthropology at the universities of Leipzig and Berlin. Also in Germany, he came under the influence of the theories of Sigmund Freud. Róheim returned to Hungary and, in 1919, became the first professor of anthropology at the University of Budapest, a post he held until 1938.

Throughout the 1920s Róheim remained primarily an academic anthropologist. However, in 1929, he embarked on a lengthy field expedition that would last until 1931. Financed by Marie Bonaparte (Princess George of Greece), the field trip was originally designed to apply psychoanalytic theory to the aborigines of Central Australia. Róheim expanded the original plan to include journeys to the Melanesian island of Normanby, plus short trips to Somaliland and Arizona. In his field work, Róheim focused primarily on the individual member of a community or culture. He used many techniques that were not common in contemporary anthropology, including dream analysis and the analysis of children's play activities.

In 1938 Róheim escaped the political turmoil in Europe and emigrated to the United States. He worked briefly, during 1938, as a clinician at the Worcester State Hospital in Massachusetts. He then moved to New York City, where he entered private practice and continued his writing. In 1940 he lectured at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. Although he took short field trips to study the Navaho Indians in the southwestern U.S., Róheim remained in New York City until his death in 1953.

Róheim was primarily a theoretician, although his theory was always based on rigorous observation and study. He was one of the first anthropologists to successfully apply Freudian theories to the analysis of cultures. His "ontogenetic theory of culture" is considered a major contribution to his field. In this theory, Róheim contended that cultural differences were largely the result of an individual's childhood traumas. The childhood experiences of the individual, he thought, were ultimately reflected in adult personality and in the collective institutions of a given culture.

Róheim stated his theory most clearly in his work The Origin and Function of Culture, published in 1943. Among his other works, the most notable are Australian Totenism (1925), Animism, Magic, and the Divine King (1930), The Eternal Ones of the Dream (1945), Psychoanalysis and Anthropology (1950), and The Gates of Dream (1952).

After Róheim's death, many of his works were collected and published by anthropologist Werner Muensterberger. Muensterberger's editions include Magic and Schizophrenia (1955), The Panic of the Gods and Other Essays (1972) and Children of the Desert : The Western Tribes of Central Australia (1974).

[Sources: Paul A. Robinson, The Freudian Left : Wilhelm Reich, Géza Róheim, Herbert Marcuse (New York: Harper and Row, c1969); George B. Wilbur and Warner Muensterberger, eds., Psychoanalysis and Culture : Essays in Honor of Géza Róheim (New York: International Universities Press, c1951).]

From the guide to the Géza Róheim Papers, 1929 - 1953, (University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Róheim, Géza, 1891-1953. [Stories [microform] : informant, Tukurpa and others (Aranda tribe)]. University of California, San Diego, UC San Diego Library; UCSD Library
referencedIn Wallace, Anthony Francis Clarke. Anthony F. C. Wallace Papers. 1920-2000. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Róheim, Géza, 1891-1953. Papers, ca. 1929-ca. 1953. University of California, San Diego, UC San Diego Library; UCSD Library
referencedIn Kommers, Jean Hubertus Maria. Prolegomena tot een psychologisch - anthropologische studie van de Australische Aborigines. Libraries Australia
creatorOf Róheim, Géza, 1891-1953. [Ten dreams and analyses] [microform]. University of California, San Diego, UC San Diego Library; UCSD Library
referencedIn Paul Federn Papers, 1864-1975, (bulk 1895-1950) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Bonaparte, Marie, Princess, 1882-1962. Princess Marie Bonaparte papers, 1889-1962 (bulk 1913-1961). Library of Congress
creatorOf Róheim, Géza, 1891-1953. The immortal gods. V, The father of gods and men [microform]. University of California, San Diego, UC San Diego Library; UCSD Library
creatorOf University of California, San Diego. Melanesian Studies Resource Center. Inventory of Géza Róheim papers at the Melanesian Studies Resource Center, University of California, San Diego [microform] / compiled by Kathryn Creely. University of California, San Diego, UC San Diego Library; UCSD Library
creatorOf Róheim, Géza, 1891-1953. The problem of interpretation [microform]. University of California, San Diego, UC San Diego Library; UCSD Library
creatorOf Róheim, Géza, 1891-1953. The immortal gods. VI, Mother earth [microform]. University of California, San Diego, UC San Diego Library; UCSD Library
creatorOf Róheim, Géza, 1891-1953. [Copies of manuscripts, inventories and artefact collection records from the Roheim collections at the Wenner-Gren foundation for Anthropological Research (N.Y.), Melanesian Archives, University of California (San Diego), and the Ethnographical Museum (Budapest)] / Geza Roheim. Libraries Australia
referencedIn Erik H. and Joan M. Erikson papers, 1925-1985 (inclusive) 1960-1980 (bulk). Houghton Library
creatorOf Géza Róheim Papers, 1929 - 1953 University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.
creatorOf Róheim, Géza, 1891-1953. [Roheim notebook : Australia : vol. 9]. Libraries Australia
referencedIn Hermann, Imre, 1889-1984. Imre Hermann papers, 1907-1967. Library of Congress
creatorOf Róheim, Géza, 1891-1953. Papers, ca. 1929-ca. 1953 [microform]. University of Pittsburgh
Role Title Holding Repository
Place Name Admin Code Country
Oceania
Normanby Island (Papua New Guinea)
Normanby Island (Papua New Guinea)
Oceania
Papua New Guinea--Normanby
Papua New Guinea--Normanby Island
Oceania
Subject
Aboriginal Australians
Aboriginal Australians
Aboriginal Australians
Aboriginal Australians
Animals
Aranda (Australian people)
Arrernte / Aranda language
Arrernte / Aranda people
Arrernte (Australian people)
Cannibalism
Dreams
Dreams
Dreams
Ethnology
Ethnology
Ethnology
Ethnopsychology
Folklore
Food
Gender relations
Hunting
Hunting
Language
Luritja / Loritja people (C7.1) (NT SG52-04)
Mythology
Navajo Indians
Navajo Indians
Pintupi people (C10) (NT SF52-11)
Primitive societies
Psychoanalysis and culture
Psychoanalysis and culture
Religion and culture
Sex relations
Stories and motifs
Stories and motifs
Occupation
Activity

Person

Birth 1891

Death 1953

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