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Department of Social Anthropology


The Division is sad to record the death on Thursday 16 July of Sir John Rankin Goody, a long-time member of the Department. Jack Goody taught Social Anthropology at Cambridge for thirty years, from 1954 until his retirement in 1984. In 1973 he was elected to succeed Meyer Fortes to the William Wyse Professorship.

His many publications contributed widely to social anthropology, and he was also an influential figure in the human and social sciences more broadly, from The Social Organisation of the LoWiili (1954), through Literacy in Traditional Societies (1968), Technology, Tradition and the State in Africa (1971), Production and Reproduction (1976), The Domestication of the Savage Mind (1977), Cooking, Cuisine and Class (1982), The Development of the Family and Marriage in Europe (1983), The Oriental, the Ancient and the Primitive (1990), The Culture of Flowers (1993), The East in the West (1996), and The Theft of History (2006) to Renaissances (2010).

The many strands of his work brought a highly distinctive mode of world-historical comparison to bear on issues that continue to resonate with the concerns of contemporary anthropologists, particularly in his much-debated writings on the nature and origins of global modernity, which he explored from a perspective strongly challenging eurocentric teleologies and ‘rise of the West’ triumphalism.

Jack Goody received many international awards and honours in the course of his long career, including a Knighthood for services to Social Anthropology in 2005.