25 June – 28 June 2024

Face to Face Conference at Senate House, University of London

Registration Now Open

The Royal Anthropological Institute is delighted to announce their next major conference that will take place at Senate House, University of London, 25 to 28 June 2024. The theme of the conference is Anthropology and Education, a focus that is sparked by the multiple contemporary challenges that we are faced with as a discipline as we seek to teach and educate.

It is our pleasure to announce that the Wellcome Medal for 2022 is awarded to Bharat Jayram Venkat for his monograph At the Limits of Cure.  This is a deeply researched, elegantly written and very cleverly constructed contemplation of the (in)curability of tuberculosis over the course of more than a century.  The aim is to unsettle our idea of cure by construing it less as a therapeutic outcome and more as an abiding object in our collective medical imaginary, a possibility first presented to Venkat during fieldwork in an HIV clinic in India.

The RAI is pleased to announce that K-Peritia, a project funded by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology programme (COST), will be based at the institute for the next four years. The project’s objectives revolve around cultural expertise and include the development of a network which will bring together scholars (particularly those at the outset of their careers) who have preliminary experience as experts in court, members of the legal professions who are interested in cultural expertise, senior scholars with experience of expert witnessing, and representatives of key international organisations, NGOs and capacity-building institutions. The RAI is particularly pleased to have this opportunity to work with this COST programme, not just because of the project’s contemporary relevance but also because it dovetails so well with initiatives that we have been developing on Cultural Expertise and Forensic Expert Social Anthropology. The COST action is led by Professor Livia Holden. More details may be found here. K-Peritia will open with a plenary conference at Pembroke College in Oxford from the 3rd to the 6th January 2024.

GRID – anthropometric photographs and potential history

Exhibition at the Royal Anthropological Institute, 50 Fitzroy St., London W1T 5BT

11 September – 14 October 2023

In the mid-nineteenth century, the emerging field of study of anthropology eagerly embraced the equally new practice of photography as a tool for a total survey of its subjects. The individuals captured in these photographs were profoundly entangled within an exploitative, marginalizing political and economic context and interactions with  photographers were very often part of the colonial encounter. The practice of anthropometry used photography to mimic scientific representation by isolating subjects against plain backgrounds or using grids in order to superficially measure physical characteristics. These images were then integrated into the pseudo-scientific project of classifying people according to racial categories.

Huxley Memorial Medal and Lecture: Professor Alex de Waal is executive director of the World Peace Foundation at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and one of the world’s most consistently original and productive anthropologists in international humanitarian and development studies.  His DPhil involved long term ethnographic fieldwork on famine in Darfur, Sudan and proved to be a stepping stone to developing a compelling and much respected critique of Sen’s work (an economist and Nobel Laureate) on famine. His work has profoundly shaped the field of international development and humanitarian studies, recognised – in part - by his election as the first president of the International Humanitarian Studies Association. In 2005-2006, he was seconded to the African Union mediation team for Darfur; and he subsequently served as senior adviser to the African Union high-level implementation panel for Sudan. He was on the list of Foreign Policy’s 100 most influential public intellectuals in 2008 and Atlantic Monthly’s 27 “brave thinkers” in 2009.

A Touch of Genius: The Life, Work and Influence of Sir Edward Evans-Pritchard

Edited by André Singer

Vol. 4 of the RAI Book Series.

Evans-Pritchard was perhaps the most influential anthropological scholar of the twentieth century. His extraordinary work in Africa has formed a central foundation to anthropological thought since the 1930s, with generations of anthropologists having read and appreciated his ethnographies of the Azande, Nuer and Sanusi, and his analyses of social structures, belief systems and history. And yet, though so much has been written about his work, a rounded understanding of the person has proved elusive.

On behalf of the Photography Committee, the RAI is delighted to announce that the 2022 Photograph Studies award has been given to Michael Aird.

We are delighted to announce that Dr Catriona Davies (BSc PhD FRAI ChFA), Lecturer in Forensic Anthropology at the University of Dundee has recently been successful in passing the
Forensic Anthropologist I chartership examination and is now a Chartered Forensic Anthropologist. Forensic Anthropology Chartered Level I is the highest professional certification offered by the RAI in Forensic Anthropology and I am sure you will join us in congratulating Dr Davies on her high achievement.  Dr Davies’professional details are published on the RAI's Chartered Forensic Anthropologist list

Edited by Andre Gingrich

Anthropology in Austria has come a long way, in terms of achieving diversity, growth and international visibility, since first emerging in Vienna, the capital of the former Habsburg Empire, and now of one of its main successor countries. This volume combines elements of critical self-reflection about that academic past with confidence in the intellectual currents presently in motion across the discipline.

Edited by Synnøve K.N. Bendixsen and Edvard Hviding

This book traces the history, growth and wide-ranging public engagements of social anthropology in Norway. An outcome of the Norwegian Anthropology Day at the Royal Anthropological Institute, the book explores diverse developments of theory and fieldwork near and far, and provides an overview of the institutional beginnings of social anthropology in Norway. A special section includes lively debates between Norwegian and British colleagues.

Edited by Stephen Cottrell

This volume celebrates the significant resurgence of interest in the anthropology of music and dance in recent decades. Traversing a range of fascinating topics, from the reassessment of historical figures such as Katherine Dunham and John Blacking, to the contemporary salience of sonic conflict between Islamic Uyghur and the Han Chinese, the essays within Music, Dance, Anthropology make a strong argument for the continued importance of the work of ethnomusicologists and ethnochoreologists, and of their ongoing recourse to anthropological theories and practices. Case studies are offered from areas as diverse as Central Africa, Ireland, Greece, Uganda and Central Asia, and illuminate core anthropological concepts such as the nature of embodied knowledge, the role of citizenship, ritual practices, and the construction of individual and group identities via a range of ethnographic methodologies. These include the consideration of soundscapes, the use of ethnographic filmmaking, and a reflection on the importance of close cultural engagement over many years.

The latest FAII exams were held in October and we are delighted that two applicants were successful in passing. I am sure you will join us in congratulating them on their achievement.  This means we have increasing numbers of Forensic Anthropologists moving through the certification process. 

The call for the next round of FAII applications is open and closes on the 31 January 2022. Practical examinations will be held in summer 2022.

Dr Lucina Hackman, Chair of the RAI Forensic Anthropology Committee.

Edited by W. John Morgan and Fiona Bowie

Asking the perennial question, 'Who are the Welsh?', this collection illustrates the history of anthropology in Wales and its distinctive contributions to this debate. Its essays range from the ethnographic insights of Gerald of Wales in the twelfth century, to analyses of the multicultural Wales of today. Contributors discuss the legacy of Iorwerth Peate, co-founder of the Welsh Folk Museum of St Fagans (now the National Museum of History), and the schools of research pioneering community studies of Welsh rural life in the second half of the twentieth century. Writings on the changing nature of family relations in de-industrialized settings such as the 1950s 'new' town of Cwmbrân and a contemporary Welsh public-housing estate provide new insights, while research on shifting patterns of religious adherence re-examine what has often been seen as a defining characteristic of Welsh society. Case studies on the challenges faced by European immigrants in Wales post Brexit and the Welsh diaspora in Patagonia add a global dimension.

On behalf the RAI, the Photography Committee is thrilled to announce that this year’s annual Photography Studies award is presented to the photographer and scholar Susan Meiselas.

The award is given in recognition of the influential contribution of a scholar and/or practitioner to the broader fields of anthropology and photography.

This year, we are presenting Susan Meiselas the award during the Citizens of Photography Symposium. ‘Citizens of Photography: The Camera and the Political Imagination’ is a five-year ERC funded project based at University College London exploring the political possibility of photographic representation across the world, with case studies focused on Nigeria, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Greece, Bangladesh, Nepal and Nicaragua. Susan Meiselas is a member of the advisory committee for the project.

The Anthropology of Displaced Communities Edited by Robert Layton. 2020. RAI/Sean Kingston Publishing. Hardback, ISBN 978-1-912385-22-5, £65.00 (GBP), $90.00 (USD).

Paperback offer for RAI Fellows £20 (including P&P) obtainable directly from

This collection highlights the work of the Royal Anthropological Institute's Urgent Anthropology Fellowships fund, which supports research into communities whose culture and social life are under immediate threat. Created by George Appell in response to the distress he experienced working with a traumatized community of swidden cultivators in Borneo, who were struggling to survive after relocation in what Appell describes as a 'cultural concentration camp', the fund was established to identify ways of supporting and strengthening such communities through ethnographic work.

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Being Human Show podcast.

This podcast brings together anthropologists from different areas of the discipline in conversation about issues of public interest. In each episode a panel of anthropology experts speak about one central topic from different angles. This podcast is produced by Jennifer Cearns and Laura Haapio-Kirk, and is supported by the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.

The podcast is available on Spotify.

The RAI is delighted to announce the appointment of a new editorial team for the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute following the conclusion of the present editor, Dr Liz Hallam’s highly successful term of office. The joint editors for the next four years are as follows:

Dr Hannah Knox, Associate Professor of Anthropology, UCL.
Dr Adam Reed, Reader in Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews.
Dr Chika Watanabe, Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Manchester
Dr Thomas Yarrow, Associate Professor in Social Anthropology, Anthropology, Durham University.

The new editors will begin officially on 1st October 2020. Though one person on the team will take the lead in any one year, they will work together throughout.

We take this opportunity to thank the outgoing editor, and to wish her successors a successful tenure.

Twilight Zone Anthropology. Voices from Poland Edited by Michal Buchowski. 2019. RAI/Sean Kingston Publishing. Vol. 2 of the RAI Country Series (Series editor David Shankland). Hardback, ISBN 978-1-912385-06-5, £60.00 (GBP), $35.00 (USD).

Paperback offer for RAI Fellows £20 (including P&P) obtainable directly from

We are very pleased to announce the publication of Twilight Zone Anthropology: Voices from Poland (RAI/Sean Kingston Publishing 2019), edited by Michał Buchowski. This is the second volume resulting from the RAI’s Country Series, whereby we invite colleagues to describe the development and comparative breadth of anthropology in their country. So far, we have held celebrations of anthropology in France, Poland, Norway, Austria and – the most recent – Brazil. We hope that Norway and Austria will be published soon, whilst Brazil is in preparation.

Treasures from the RAI’s photo archive have been featured in The Guardian online. The photo essay – part of The Guardian’s ‘In Pictures’ series – includes some of the remarkable physical type portraits taken by Northcote Thomas in Nigeria and Sierra Leone in the early twentieth century.

Thomas was an Assistant Secretary of the RAI and subsequently serves on its Council. He was also the first Government Anthropologist to be appointed by the British Colonial Office. In this capacity he conducted a series of anthropological surveys in what were then the protectorates of Southern Nigeria and Sierra Leone. During the surveys, Thomas took thousands of photographs, made hundreds of sound recordings and assembled large collections of artefacts and botanical specimens. The RAI holds the original glass plate negatives of Thomas’s photographs and is a partner in the AHRC-funded Museum Affordances / [Re:]Entanglements project that is investigating the ‘archival legacies’ of Thomas’s surveys.


Edited by David Shankland, Director, RAI

Sean Kingston: RAI Occasional Publication Number 45

By special arrangement with the publishers, paperback copies are available privately to Fellows at the reduced price of £15 +£2.50 post and packing (where it needs to be sent). Please write to if any fellow would like one, or more copies.

It was agreed at the meeting of the Council of the Royal Anthropological Institute on 11 June 2015 that the title of Director Emeritus/Emerita should be conferred on our former directors Mr Jonathan Benthall and Mrs Hilary Callan.

The Anthropology and the Environment Committee of the RAI have put together a list of anthropologists who are interested in environmental issues.  This list is a resource for other anthropologists and for those outside anthropology looking for a particular expertise.

The list can be consulted here.

Anthropology & Photography is a new open-access publication series edited by the RAI Photography Committee. Emerging from the international conference of the same name organized by the RAI at the British Museum in 2014, the series will highlight and make available to the widest possible audience the best new work in the field.

We are eager to solicit new contributions from anthropologists and practitioners which could be visual, textual, or somewhere in between.

50 Years of Anthropology

The results of a British Academy funded project.  You can see the full report here.

The nature of the Index means that many of the articles we incorporate would be difficult to find via other means such as through Google Scholar or similar search engines, so in many ways the AIO gives a clear and the most complete picture we can hope for of what anthropologists have been discovering for the last 50 years.

The RAI is delighted to announce that its Director, Dr David Shankland, has been made an Honorary Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University College London.