RAI Presidential Addresses. The list of previous RAI Presidents can be found here.

The following RAI lectures have been recorded and are available online to listen to or download. Videos of other RAI events are available on our YouTube channel here.

2020 Presidential Address by Sue Black

Forensic Anthropology and the UK Criminal Justice System

Forensic anthropologists are expert witnesses who provide professional opinion to the criminal justice system to assist juries (the triers of fact) with their deliberations. The forensic anthropologist is usually a biological anthropologist or anatomist who has a credible scientific profile and a critical understanding of the limits of their discipline. They must also be able to communicate this knowledge base to the court through normal every day language that does not diminish the scientific integrity of the concepts under adversarial legal scrutiny. From the moment the expert becomes involved in a forensic case they must understand the protocols, procedures and requirements of all the actors from the crime scene to the court which will include the police, other scientists, case builders and advocates. They must adhere to the rules of their regulatory bodies and they must at all times be impartial, honest and trustworthy. This address will attempt to construct an understanding of the complex landscape in which the forensic anthropologist must work and it will conclude with the pivotal role of the Royal Anthropological Institute as the UK's professional body for forensic anthropology.

This lecture is available here.

2013 Presidential Address by Clive Gamble

The anthropology of deep-history

The history of anthropology reveals a discipline driven by fission and fusion. One moment of fusion occurred in 1871 with the formation of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. This year marks the centenary of the death of our first President, Sir John Lubbock, Lord Avebury. Lubbock was closely involved with the promotion of Darwinian evolution as a science and his wide interests encompassed natural history as well as archaeology. His centenary provides a moment to ask if the fragmentation of the constituent parts of anthropology that has occurred in the last century is irreversible. Does the strength of the discipline lie in its myriad interests or is it better served by reaffirming a unified approach to the science of humanity?

In this address I will use the framework of deep-history as an example of what might be achieved if anthropology resolved to travel the road of fusion rather than continue with atomisation. I will illustrate the pathway by examining the fusion of interdisciplinary endeavour that is encapsulated in the concept of a social brain. By placing social life at the heart of the historical process we find common ground for all the fields of anthropology, and beyond to other disciplines. Here anthropologists have the opportunity to set the agenda. The social brain works in deep as well as shallow-history. It unites experimental and historical science. And it marks a return to those core principles which Lubbock and the founders of our Institution established.

The lecture is available here.