Geoffrey Edgar Solomon Gorer (26 March 1905 – 24 May 1985) was an English anthropologist and author, noted for his application of psychoanalytic techniques to anthropology.
Born into a non-practicing Jewish family, he was educated at Charterhouse and at Jesus College, Cambridge. During the 1930s he wrote unpublished fiction and drama. His first book was The Revolutionary Ideas of the Marquis de Sade (1934, revised 1953, 1964). He then published an account of a journey he made following Féral Benga in Africa, Africa Dances (1935, new edns. 1945 : Penguin, 1949, 1962; Eland 2003), which was a considerable success and proved to be a springboard for a career as a writer and anthropologist. After Africa Dances, his career was advanced by the publishers and anthropologists now taking a keen interest in his well-regarded work. Another cultural study followed: Bali and Angkor, or, Looking at Life and Death (1936). Hot Strip Tease appeared in 1937 and Himalayan Village in 1938.
From 1939 he lived and worked in the United States. He wrote The Americans (1948), The People of Great Russia.
From 1957 he again worked in England. Exploring English Character, based on a large survey he designed, appeared in 1955. Death, Grief, and Mourning in Contemporary Britain appeared in 1965. The Danger of Equality and other essays (1966) collected some recent papers. Sex and Marriage in England Today appeared in 1971.
An article by Gorer that has contemporary relevance is the 1955 Encounter 5, essay "The Pornography of Death," in which he argues that sex and death exchange positions of the forbidden in Western culture. This work has been updated for the 21st century by the sociologist Jacque Lynn Foltyn, Ph.D, who argues that death is the "new sex," that death and sex have been conflated in the phenomenon she calls "corpse porn" in influential scholarly articles published in Mortality journal: "The Corpse in Contemporary Culture: Identifying, Transacting, and Recoding the Dead Body in the Twenty-First Century.” 13(2), 99-104, 2008; “Dead Famous and Dead Sexy: Popular Culture, Forensics & the Rise of the Corpse.” 13(2),153-173, 2008; and "Bodies of Evidence: Criminalizing the Celebrity Corpse.” 21 (3), 246-262, 2016. Foltyn cites Gorer's death and culture work as influencing her theories about the growing public interest in the deaths of celebrities, the forensic investigations into their causes of death, and the macabre fascination with their corpses; her expertise about celebrity deaths has been featured in interviews and appearances on CNN, BBC, CBS 48 Hours, and NBC Today Show.
- An extract from Gorer's book "Africa Dances", published in London in 1935 at Serbia Travel Club
- The Gorer Papers
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