Skip to main content
Menu

Portrait of Professor Derek Freeman, 1996

Ralph Heimans

pencil and pastel on paper (sheet (irregular): 40.4 cm x 31.7 cm, frame: 66.2 cm x 51 cm)

Derek Freeman (1916–2001) was an anthropologist. Born in New Zealand, he gained his doctorate from Cambridge before moving to Canberra in 1955 to work at the Australian National University. He was Professor of Anthropology from 1972 to 1981, during which period he also became an influential advocate for Aboriginal rights. Freeman had earlier been inspired by the work of Margaret Mead, but came to doubt her highly influential account of adolescent sexuality in Samoa, finding her theories too narrowly based on cultural determinism and on the ‘nature vs nurture’ debate. In 1983 the publication of 'Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth' caused a furore in the academic world, which was fuelled by 'The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead' (1988). The stoush was the subject of David Williamson’s play 'Heretic' (1996), the title of which delighted the elderly scholar.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds from the Basil Bressler Bequest 2001

Accession number: 2001.176

Currently not on display

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

Artist and subject

Ralph Heimans (age 26 in 1996)

Professor Derek Freeman (age 80 in 1996)

Subject professions

Education and research

© National Portrait Gallery 2019
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia


Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196
The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land upon which the NPG stands.