HOAP Project summary & call for Expressions of Interest

Histories of Oxford Anthropology Project

The School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography is commissioning a series of micro-research projects to investigate its past and to celebrate the diverse constituencies central to its history. The explicit aim is better to represent the ‘hidden histories’ of the department in line with our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. This is an opportunity for a student-led re-evaluation of our history and what is relevant to it.

As a department directly linked to the training of colonial officers, one aim would be to reflect further on the relationship between anthropology at Oxford and the history of colonisation. Some aspects of these connections have received widespread attention – for example, the prominent student led movement (Rhodes Must Fall) to remove the statue of Cecil John Rhodes, at Oriel College has drawn global attention to the imperial sources of wealth in the  university and collegiate system. However, colonial links are also embedded into the institutional and research culture of the University in more subtle and pervasive ways – many of which remain unexamined. Projects here might develop ongoing work around the lives and works of Okot p’Bitek, the famed Ugandan poet, and Kofi Busia, the former prime minister of the Gold Coast.

Such ‘hidden figures’ within the department’s history would also develop the focus on ‘intrepid women’ in anthropology at Oxford. At a time when men controlled the discipline of anthropology and Oxford refused to allow women to collect their degrees, female anthropologists nevertheless were pioneers in ethnographic collection and research. The 2018-19 exhibition at the Pitt Rivers ‘Intrepid Women: Fieldwork in Action, 1910-1957’, which featured material on the life and work of Barbara Freire-Marreco (1879–1967) who was the first women to enrol on the Oxford Anthropology Diploma in 1906, would provide a foundation for further research.

We therefore invite pitches for small-scale research and dissemination projects that address different aspects of the school’s history – especially in relation to race and gender. We hope that these projects will contribute to increased public and institutional understanding about the global and diverse constituencies that have been central to the history of Oxford anthropology.

We will support:

  • Small research projects into the history of the school of anthropology at Oxford
  • Time to develop existing research on this topic into an accessible or artistic format (e.g. webpage, podcast, creative output etc.)

We are keen to receive pitches for projects on subjects related to Oxford anthropology that can be completed within the timeframe. We also have a few topics already identified, which could be investigated by students or ECRs in consultation. These include:

  • The career of Harriet Ngubane (1974 Ioma Evans-Pritchard fellow at St Anne’s College)
  • The career of Kofi Busia (PhD Social anthropology 1947). Prime minister of Ghana (1969-72).
  • Photographic records of African assistants on colonial-era anthropological research at Oxford (Pitt Rivers Museum collections)
  • Louis Fernando Henriques - a Jamaican scholar who was admitted to the DPhil and became President of the Oxford Union in 1944, before playing a leading role in establishing race relations studies in the UK.
  • Akiri Nyabongo (aka “Prince Nyabongo”), who as early as 1939  did a thesis in our School on Ugandan religion
  • The material history of the Tylor library

We envisage funding 2-5 days of research time per project, paid on an hourly rate at grade 6. This opportunity is open to members of Oxford University. Funds will be allocated on a rolling basis until they are spent. For budgetary reasons, all work must be completed by July 2022. We will require an output that can be publicly disseminated. Please contact Morgan Clarke (morgan.clarke@anthro.ox.ac.uk) and David Pratten (david.pratten@anthro.ox.ac.uk) for more information or to discuss a project.