Fei Xiaotong: Policy in the Service of Minorities
Toward a People’s Anthropology
Fei Xiaotong (1910–), having conducted participant observation research in a village in his homeland China, went to Great Britain to study at the London School of Economics from 1936 to 1938. There he wrote his first book, Peasant Life in China (1939), under Malinowski’s guidance. Fei also studied at Harvard, University of Chicago, and the Institute of Pacific Relations and spent most of his career as a professor of anthropology in China. In his 1980 Malinowski Award address, Fei contrasted the anthropology practiced in Chinese colonial times with the use of anthropology by a political system to better the lives of poor and disadvantaged peoples. While he expressed concerns similar to those of U.S. applied anthropologists regarding the link between theory and practice and the relationship of anthropologists to the people studied, he held that anthropology, science, and politics must be unified for the betterment of humanity.