RAI Book Series

RAI Book Series

  1. The RAI Book Series in Anthropology is intended to cover anthropology in its widest sense. Proposals are therefore welcome from any anthropological field, whether historical or contemporary.
  2. At present, an arrangement has been made with Sean Kingston publishing to publish these volumes in association with the RAI.
  3. The series editor is Professor Jeremy MacClancy.
  4. Single-author books are welcome. Edited volumes, coherently structured around a theme, are also eligible.
  5. Proposed manuscripts should be in English, no longer than 100,000 words. Though preliminary enquiries are welcome, any decision will only be made on the basis of a final manuscript.
  6. If found potentially suitable for publication, manuscripts received will be sent to referees. The decision of the RAI is final.
  7. The aim of the series is to provide a publishing outlet for work of the highest quality. Commercial considerations are therefore not paramount, but it is the aim to reinvest any surplus achieved in future projects.
  8. Authors are expected to cover any photographic reproduction costs, to correct the proofs, and to produce an index.
  9. Authors are welcome at any stage in their academic career.
  10. So that we can log all queries, expressions of interest should be made in the first instance to publications@therai.org.uk.


Built in Niugini:Constructions in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea by Paul Sillitoe

Vol. 1 of the RAI Book Series.

The sequel to the acclaimed Made in Niugini, which explored in unparalleled depth the material world of the Wola comprising moveable artefacts, Built in Niugini continues Paul Sillitoe's project in exemplary fashion, documenting the built environment, architecture and construction techniques in a tour de force of ethnography. But this is more than a book about building houses. Sillitoe also shows how material constructions can serve to further our understandings of intellectual constructions. Allowing his ethnography to take the lead, and paying close attention to the role of tacit understandings and know-how in both skilled work and everyday dwelling, his close experiential analyses inform a phenomenologically inflected discussion of profound philosophical questions - such as what can we know of being-in-the-world - from startlingly different cultural directions.

The book also forms part of a long-term project to understand a radically different 'economy', which is set in an acephalous order that extends individual freedom and equality in a manner difficult to imagine from the perspective of a nation-state - an intriguing way of being-in-the-world that is entwined with tacit aspects of knowing via personal and emotional experience. This brings us back to the explanatory power of a focus on technology, which Sillitoe argues for in the context of 'materiality' approaches that feature prominently in current debates about the sociology of knowledge. Archaeology has long been to the fore in considering technology and buildings, along with vernacular architecture, and Sillitoe contributes to a much needed dialogue between anthropology and these disciplines, assessing the potential and obstacles for a fruitful rapprochement.

Built in Niugini represents the culmination of Sillitoe's luminous scholarship as an anthropologist who dialogues fluidly with the literature and ideas of numerous disciplines. The arguments throughout engage with key concepts and theories from anthropology, archaeology, architecture, material culture studies, cognitive science, neuroscience and philosophy. The result is a significant work that contributes to not only our regional knowledge of the New Guinea Highlands but also to studies of tacit knowledge and the anthropology of architecture and building practices.
Trevor Marchand, Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology, School of Oriental and African Studies

List of figures; List of maps; List of plates; List of tables; Foreword; Preface; Chapter 1 - Whys and wherefores of construction; Chapter 2 - A dwelling perspective; Chapter 3 - Locating the house, locating the social; Chapter 4 - A seminar: what can archaeology and anthropology do together?; Chapter 5 - Seminar postscript: accessing minds, past and present; Chapter 6 - Building materials and materiality; Chapter 7 - House construction: a how-to-do-it account and critique; Chapter 8 - Some other structures: tradition and change; Chapter 9 - Snakes and bridges: social constructivism?; Chapter 10 - Gender structures and divisions; Chapter 11 - Passing on knowing: hands-on participation; Chapter 12 - Knowing the tacit; Chapter 13 - Doing it to know it; Appendix - Glossary of Wola construction terms; References; Index

Paul Sillitoe FBA is Professor of Anthropology at Durham University

Hardback, ISBN 978-1-907774-45-4, £100.00 (GBP), $150.00 (USD)

Please click here to order.

Made in Niugini: Technology in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea by Paul Sillitoe

Vol. 2 of the RAI Book Series.

This impressive and inspiring volume has as its modest origins the documentation of a contemporary collecting project for the British Museum. Informed by curators' critiques of uneven collections accompanied by highly variable information, Sillitoe set out with the ambition of recording the totality of the material culture of the Wola of the southern highlands of Papua New Guinea, at a time when the study of artefacts was neglected in university anthropology departments. His achievements, presented in this second edition of Made in Nuigini with a new contextualizing preface and foreword, brought a new standard of ethnography to the incipient revival of material culture studies, and opened up the importance of close attention to technology and material assemblages for anthropology. The 'economy' fundamentally concerns the material aspects of life, and as Sillitoe makes clear, Wola attitudes and behaviour in this regard are radically different to those of the West, with emphasis on 'maker users' and egalitarian access to resources going hand in hand with their stateless and libertarian principles.

What a stunning and rewarding book! Te Rangi Hiroa, C.S. Ford, Darryl Forde, Clark Wissler and Edward Gifford - to mention a few of my earlier friends and teachers - would all have enjoyed this work immensely.
Harold C. Conklin

Not many anthropologists could have brought to fruition a work like this. Its singleness of purpose offers what amounts to a unique perspective on Papua New Guinea Highland life& It will be a work of reference for Melanesianists. But social anthropologists in general should take note. The relentlessness of Sillitoe's investigation has its own effect. It throws up quite unexpected detail: the chert knappers' care that people will not cut their feet on fragments, the different times it takes men to tease their hair into wigs, why barbed arrows are feared ... the number of skirts a woman needs to feel adequately attired ... [A] magnificent epic to human endeavour. Regardless of whether they hold collections from Melanesia, this should be in the library of every ethnographic museum: and regardless of whether they think they are interested in material culture, this should be available to every anthropology department.
Marilyn Strathern, Man

Made in Niugini is an extraordinarily ambitious and finely executed account, encyclopaedic in scope and design, and expertly illustrated.
Thomas G. Harding, American Anthropologist

Foreword; Preface to the second edition; List of maps; List of figures; List of tables; List of plates; Preface; Chapter 1 - Artifacts and people; Chapter 2 - Environment and resources; Chapter 3 - Tools; Chapter 4 - Weapons; Chapter 5 - Consumption utensils; Chapter 6 - Apparel; Chapter 7 - Finery and self-destruction; Chapter 8 - Musical instruments; Chapter 9 - Art and facts pertaining to Wola artifacts; Appendix I - Technical glossary; Appendix II - Property survey questionnaire; References; Index

Paul Sillitoe FBA is Professor of Anthropology at Durham University

Hardback, ISBN 978-1-907774-89-8, £120.00 (GBP), $180.00 (USD)

Please click here to order.

The Nuaulu World of Plants

Ethnobotanical cognition, knowledge and practice among a people of Seram, eastern Indonesia

Roy Ellen

Roy Ellen's The Nuaulu World of Plants is the culmination of anthropological fieldwork on the eastern Indonesian island of Seram, and of comparative enquiries into the bases of human classificatory activity through the study of ethnobiological knowledge over a fifty year period.

This rich account of the ways plants feature in the worldview and lifeways of the Nuaulu, recognizes that plant knowledge is embedded in plural local and historical contexts: in swiddens, garden crops, managed fallow, village spaces and pathways; in the trees, and the ecological, conceptual and experiential relationships to forest; in plants' roles as healing agents, raw materials, fuels and in ritual; and in historical flux, with the introduction of exotic plants and the impact of colonial and post-colonial ways of seeing the plant world. Ellen's contemporary examination of Nuaulu classificatory practices, in the light of comparable observations made by the seventeenth-century Dutch naturalist Rumphius, gains us a better understanding of how scientific taxonomy emerges from folk knowledge.

The comprehensive study of local plant classification based on robust datasets and long-term fieldwork presented here is a rare achievement, and comprises an outstanding resource for regional ethnology. But this book offers a further dimension, evaluating the theoretical consensus on the relationship between so-called 'natural' classifications and utilitarian schemes, and thereby highlights, and addresses, some of the problems of Berlin and Atran's highly influential framework for studying folk knowledge systems. It emphasizes the difficulties of simple claims for universality versus relativity, cultural models versus individual contextual schemata, and of two-dimensional taxonomies. Ellen persuasively argues that classification is a dynamic and living process of cultural cognition that links knowledge to practice, and is not easily reducible to graphical representations or abstract generalizations. Moreover, he draws attention to recent radical approaches to ontology and epistemology, specifically those focusing upon 'convergence metaphysics', arguing these present new challenges for the field.

This book will undoubtedly become a landmark study in the field of ethnobotany. It represents anthropology at its best ... Roy Ellen has an outstanding reputation and is recognised globally as a leading ethnoscientist, and this rich volume further confirms his status.
Paul Sillitoe FBA, Professor of Anthropology at Durham University

This will be a must read for students interested in conducting ethnobiological fieldwork and, more broadly, comparative analysis of cognition... Nuggets of gold come in every chapter.
Thomas Thorton, Associate Professor & Senior Associate Research Fellow, University of Oxford

Roy Ellen FBA is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Human Ecology at the University of Kent.

Hardback, ISBN 978-1-912385-25-6, £100.00 (GBP), $150.00 (USD)


The Anthropology of Displaced Communities

Edited by Robert Layton

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.

Since 1995, Urgent Anthropology Fellows have worked with many displaced communities, whether found in refugee camps, resettled in kindred communities across national borders or in environments hostile to their traditional way of life; or whether suffering from the aftermath of civil war or the intrusion of foreigners in search of minerals. Despite the diversity of circumstances in these case studies, this book shows some of the common strategies that emerge in helping displaced communities regain some control over their own destinies. These include membership of social networks, access to natural resources, land ownership and self sufficiency, autonomy in local judicial procedures and economic activities as well as the celebration of traditional rituals, all of which lessen the potential powerlessness of displaced communities.

Any anthropologist or NGO worker, and indeed anyone who works with, or cares about, vulnerable communities and the rights of indigenous peoples, will gain much from the accumulation of experience and insights offered herein.

This book is a testimony to George Appell's vision, generosity and legacy. A forceful representative of a tradition that cherishes ethnographic description as a potent stimulus for the appreciation of diversity and the best corrective to biased speculation. The Urgent Anthropology Fellowship Programme has created a wealth of work that illuminates the contemporary contexts of indigenous struggles worldwide, while encouraging the mutuality of thinking, a most precious gift..
Laura Rival, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Oxford

This rich collection explores what happens when people from small-scale societies are displaced from their home communities and asks how, and under what conditions, they can create or recreate their lives. Going well beyond 'survival anthropology', the authors reveal the complexities of such situations and their effects on the well-being (or otherwise) of those obliged to uproot themselves and move elsewhere.
Pat Caplan, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, Goldsmiths, University of London

Tribute: A tribute to my father - Laura P. Appell-Warren; Introduction: The anthropology of displaced communities - Robert Layton; Chapter 1: The RAI's Urgent Anthropology Fellowships and the Anthropologists' Fund for Urgent Anthropological Research - George N. Appell; Chapter 2: Reckoning urgency: Making do in a Sudanese war-displaced community - Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf; Chapter 3: Case studies in asocial reproduction: Displacement, leadership and conflict resolution among refugees in the Horn of Africa and the Sudan - Kwesi Sansculotte-Greenidge and Laura Barber; Chapter 4: Changing patterns of religion and ritual in a Vasava Bhil community impacted by involuntary resettlement - Roxanne Hakim; Chapter 5: The impact of attempted resettlement on the Konda Reddis, South India - Thanuja Mummidi; Chapter 6: Displacement, language loss and identity in two villages in eastern Nicaragua - Mark Jamieson; Chapter 7: Displacing culture: Intervention and social change in Papua New Guinea s extractive industries - Emma Gilberthorpe; Chapter 8: Memory and historical narratives among Orthodox Christians in Syria at the start of the twenty-first century - Noriko Sato; Chapter 9: Nations with/out borders: Neoliberalism and the problem of belonging in Africa, and beyond - Jean Comaroff and John L. Comaroff; Chapter 10: Cultural concentration camps: Resettlement in Borneo, and other insults to the social order of indigenous peoples - George N. Appell; Contributors; Index.

Robert Layton is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of Durham.

Hardback, ISBN 978-1-912385-22-5, £65.00 (GBP), $90.00 (USD)

Paperback offer for RAI Fellows £20.00 (including P&P) contact admin@therai.org.uk.

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

Edited by André Singer

Vol. 4 of the RAI 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.

This volume covers Evans-Pritchard as a promising student, a young graduate in search of career opportunities, an adventurous cultural explorer, a determined officer in the Second World War, and an ambitious department-building professor with a global reputation. Against a glittering array of contexts and characters - from Malinowski to Marett to the Maharaj of Kutch; from Oxford poets and pubs to Catholic conversion in war-torn Libya - there emerges a fascinating study of a figure who was much more than an innovative anthropologist.

A portrait of the man and his time is composed from personal correspondence, archives and familial recollections, contributions from surviving friends and students, and accounts by those, including contemporary African scholars, who continue to debate and re-evaluate his work in all its complexity. This book is a fitting monument to Evans-Pritchard's legacy and a landmark in anthropological historiography.

No other anthropologist has had Evans-Pritchard's unique combination of theoretical sophistication and ethnographic skill in a number of very different contexts, and personal charisma. This volume will be an essential reference for anyone seeking to understand the mercurial man behind the classic monographs.
David N. Gellner, Professor of Social Anthropology and Fellow of All Souls, University of Oxford

What emerges in this remarkable volume is a complex character whose attributes cannot be easily and holistically represented, but he vividly comes through in biographical accounts, interpersonal correspondence, recollections of family members, friends, students and colleagues, and, of course, his own scholarship.
Ambassador Francis Deng, United Nations Special Representative on Human Rights, and Special Representative for the Prevention of Genocide until 2012

A valuable contribution to the discipline's history through his time; both locally in Oxford, and globally.
Hilary Callan, Director Emerita, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland

André Singer is is Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Southern California and Professorial Research Associate at London School of Oriental and African Studies.maker in the Department of Anthropology and Cultural Research of the University of Bremen.

Published in association with the Royal Anthropological Institute

Ebook, ISBN 978-1-912385-50-8, OPEN ACCESS (link)

Hardback, ISBN 978-1-912385-48-5, £130.00 (GBP), $175.00 (USD)

Paperback offer for RAI Fellows £30.00 (plus P&P) contact admin@therai.org.uk.