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Roy A. Rappaport (1926–1997) was a distinguished anthropologist known for his contributions to the anthropological study of ritual and to ecological anthropology.

Rappaport received his Ph.D. at Columbia University and then held a position at the University of Michiganmarker. One of his publications, Pigs for the Ancestors: Ritual in the Ecology of a New Guinea People (1968), is an ecological account of ritual among the Tsembaga Maring of New Guineamarker. This book is often considered the most influential and most cited work in ecological anthropology (see McGee and Warms 2004). In that book, and elaborated elsewhere, Rappaport coined the distinction between a people's cognized environment and their operational environment, that is between how a people interpret their ecological niche and how their reality actually exists.

Rappaport served as Chair of the Department of Anthropology, University of Michiganmarker, and as a past president of the American Anthropological Association. Rappaport died of cancer in 1997.


  • McGee, R. Jon and Richard L. Warms (2004) Anthropological Theory: An Introductory History. New York: McGraw Hill.
  • Rappaport, R.A. (1968) Pigs for the Ancestors. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Rappaport, R.A. (1979) Ecology, Meaning and Religion. Richmond: North Atlantic Books.
  • Rappaport, R.A. (1984) Pigs for the Ancestors. 2nd edition. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Rappaport, R.A. (1999) Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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