Influential anthropologist Masao Yamaguchi dies at 81


Famed anthropologist Masao Yamaguchi died of pneumonia at a hospital in Mitaka, western Tokyo, early Sunday. He was 81.

After graduating from the department of Japanese history at the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Letters, Yamaguchi studied anthropology at the graduate school of now-defunct Tokyo Metropolitan University.

He was head of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies’ Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, and president of Sapporo University. He also taught at the University of Paris as a visiting professor.

He was among the 2011 Persons of Cultural Merit named by the government.

Yamaguchi is known for the center and periphery concept based on his fieldwork in Asia, Africa and other parts of the world, as well as his ethnological study on the role of tricksters.

He wrote many books, including “A Psychological History of Losers” and “Culture and Duality.”

Yamaguchi also had major influence in such fields as stage drama, movies and literature.