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Morris Edward Opler

(1907 - 1996)

OPLER, MORRIS EDWARD (1907–1996), U.S. anthropologist and brother of Marvin Kaufmann *Opler. Born in Buffalo, New York, Opler received a bachelor's degree in sociology (1929) and a master's degree in anthropology (1930) from the University of Buffalo; he received a Ph.D. in anthropology (1933) from the University of Chicago. Opler taught at the University of Chicago (1933–35); he worked at the Bureau of Indian Affairs (1936–37); and taught at Reed College (1937–38) and Claremont College (1938–42). During World War II, he worked as a social science analyst at a Japanese-American internment camps and then with the War Office.

In 1948 he was appointed to Cornell University as professor of anthropology and Asian studies, and director of its South Asia Program, 1948–66, and the India Program 1952–66. He served as president of the American Anthropological Association (1962–63). In 1969 he joined the anthropology faculty at the University of Oklahoma, retiring in 1977 as professor emeritus.

His primary research interests were the ethnology of the Apache tribes, the cultural history of the Southwest, and the culture of India, as set out in An Apache Way of Life (1941). He was also author of Social Aspects of Technical Assistance in Operation (UNESCO, 1954). In later years he, like his brother, became interested in the relation between psychiatry and anthropology, and disturbed behavior and treatment in primitive and modern cultures.

Other books by Opler include Myths and Tales of the Chiricahua Apache Indians (1942), Childhood and Youth in Jicarilla Apache Society (1964), Apache Odyssey (1969), and Myths and Tales of the Jicarilla Apache Indians (1994).

[Ephraim Fischoff / Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.