HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article on Raymond Firth in Australia and New Zealand.
Gray, Geoffrey and Christine Winter, 2021. “Raymond Firth in the Antipodes: A ‘Capacity for Organising and Administration as well as First-Rate Anthropology’,” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.
New Zealand-born Raymond Firth, anthropologist and successor to Malinowski at the London School of Economics, has been described as an “organisation man, both in his theory and in his administrative activities…In administration he was a consistent and fair-minded advocate for anthropology at home and abroad.’ It is this aspect – a consistent and fair-minded advocate for anthropology – that this article examines. It is a persona that is clearly seen after World War II. There were hints before then, such as his role in putting the needs of the institution ahead of personal friendship in enabling Adolphus Peter Elkin to succeed him as professor at the University of Sydney in 1932. After World War II Firth was consulted on all senior academic appointments between 1946 and 1965 during this crucial foundation and consolidation time for academic anthropology in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand. An unexpected consequence was that through these appointments, he introduced new ways of thinking about the discipline that contrasted with what existed in Australia before the war, which is particularly evident in the appointments of Siegfried Frederick Nadel and John Arundel Barnes. Grown and nurtured in the Antipodes, Gray and Winter argue, Firth’s Southern sensibilities remained throughout his career, and allowed him in turn to bring fresh approaches to anthropology in the Antipodes.