The Royal Anthropological Institute has six honours and distinctions at its disposal. These awards are announced in Anthropology Today.

Honorary Fellows

Honorary Fellows, elected by the RAI Council, are persons eminent in anthropology not normally resident in the United Kingdom.

The RAI President’s Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a person who, in the opinion of the judges, has made a fundamental, sustained and outstanding contribution to the discipline of anthropology over the course of their career. The award may be given to a person of any nationality, and there is no restriction on which sub-branch of anthropology from which the winner may be drawn.

The inaugural award was made to Professor David Parkin (All Souls College, Oxford) in 2018.

This distinction was instituted in 1900 in memory of Thomas Henry Huxley and is the highest honour at the disposal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. It is awarded annually, by ballot of the Council, to a scientist, British or foreign, distinguished in any field of anthropological research in the widest sense.

The Medal was founded in 1923 by the Council of the Institute in memory of its late President, William Halse Rivers, originally for `for anthropological work in the field'. However, in the 1960s the rules were amended to reflect anthropological work in a broader sense.

The Lucy Mair Medal & Marsh Prize for Applied Anthropology is awarded annually by the Royal Anthropological Institute. First awarded in 1998, the Medal is intended to honour excellence in the application of anthropology to the relief of poverty and distress, and to the active recognition of human dignity.

The Curl Lectureship is awarded biennially by the Council of the Royal Anthropological Institute. The lecture is delivered in alternation with the Henry Myers Lecture.

Oxford University’s School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography and UCL Anthropology have established a fund to support an annual lecture in memory of Dame Mary Douglas (1921-2007). Mary was trained at Oxford and spent most of her working life at UCL, so it is proposed that the lecture should alternate between Oxford and UCL.

The Henry Myers Lecturship on the Role of Religion in Society was founded by Henry Myers, a Fellow of the Institute, in 1945 "to further the study of man's mental and spiritual development".

Awarded by the RAI Council to a person who in their opinion has made a distinguished contribution to the study of anthropology and photography.

Prior Recipients

The Patron's Medal is awarded from time to time for distinguished services to Anthropology and to the Institute.