Marshall Sahlins was born in Chicago in 1930. To qualify as an anthropologist, conducted fieldwork at the University of Michigan, with Leslie White. He graduated in 1951, and in 1952 completed a Master of Arts. In 1954 he earned a doctorate at Columbia University. That same year he married Barbar Vollen and moved to Fiji, where he conducted a research stay until 1955. The product of his research was the book Maola: Culture and Nature on a Fijian Island, published in 1962.