Margaret Mary Douglas<sup>1</sup> 1921–2007

Richard Fardon

in Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 166, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, IX

Published by British Academy

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780197264751
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734229 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Margaret Mary Douglas1 1921–2007

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Mary Douglas's retirement lasted almost a quarter of a century, quite long enough for her to fade pottering into obscurity. Yet what happened was diametrically, single-mindedly opposite: an increasing productivity well into her eighties; an unchallengeable position within British anthropology's most brilliant professional generation; and a generous reassessment within her own discipline of the work of her mid-career. Few could have predicted this outcome when in 1977 Douglas resigned her professorship at University College London in order to become Director of Research on Culture at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York. Fewer still as she found herself immediately mired in the controversial sacking of the man who had hired her. Yet Douglas emerged from this fray with risk analysis added to the already formidable range of fields on which she wrote. No field of anthropology–religion, symbolism, politics, economics, cognition, to name only a few–was untouched by her ideas.

Keywords: anthropologist; biography; obituary

Chapter.  10155 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Methods and Historiography

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