Raymond William Firth, 1901–2002

J. H. R. Davis

in Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 124. Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, III

Published by British Academy

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263204
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734205 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Raymond William Firth, 1901–2002

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Raymond Firth was an anthropologist, working chiefly in the Pacific, Malaysia and London, in the fields of economics, religion and kinship. Firth held permanent teaching posts at Sydney (1930–2) and at the London School of Economics (1932–40, 1944–68). During the Second World War he served in Naval Intelligence; he became secretary of the Colonial Social Science Research Council in 1944–5, and was a founding member of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth in 1946. Firth was a patient and generous teacher whose many graduate students remained loyal throughout their lives; he was an able and purposeful administrator of great integrity: no one alive can remember him doing a mean or malicious or self-interested act. In anthropology he was resolutely humane and empirical: his aim was always to convey the variety and complexity of people's experience, and to show how his theory was based on that understanding.

Keywords: anthropologist; biography; Malaysia; London School of Econimics; Sydney

Chapter.  7347 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Theory, Methods, and Historiography

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