Ruth Leah Bunzel (1898 - 1990)
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Ruth Leah Bunzel (1898 - 1990) was an American anthropologist, known for her studies of the Zuni people and of alcoholism in two Latin American villages. She started her career as the secretary of Franz Boas, founder of anthropology at Columbia University, who encouraged her to take up anthropology directly.
Bunzel became interested in the Zuni from having visited the people with anthropologist Ruth Benedict from Columbia, and because she was fascinated with the prominent role of women as potters in Zuni society. Her 1929 PhD dissertation, Pueblo Potter, describes the creative process of Zuni potters, who preserve and reproduce traditional patterns even as individual potters innovate and create new ones. She was one of the first anthropologists to study the creative process. She later said, "Look, I was never studying pottery. I was studying human behavior. I wanted to know how the potters felt about what they were doing."
Similarly, when studying drinking patterns in the Mexican and Guatemalan villages, she said she was not studying alcohol. She studied "people and their drinking habits as seen in their cultural contexts and the influences behind these habits."