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Department of Social Anthropology


Every year, the Department of Social Anthropology awards the Audrey Richards Prize for the best performance in the Part I examination in Social Anthropology (Paper SAN1).

Audrey Richards CBE FBA (1899-1984) was one of the most important social anthropologists of her generation.  Richards was brought up in India, and educated at Newnham College, Cambridge, where she read biology. After relief work in Germany after the First World War, she joined the famous anthropology seminar run by Bronislaw Malinowski at the London School of Economics, where she got to know many of the other pioneering figures who would go on to establish the modern discipline of social anthropology in the UK and beyond, and she completed a PhD, under Malinowski’s supervision, in 1931. Richards conducted fieldwork in what is now Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia), primarily among the matrilineal Bemba people, in the 1930s and then again in the 1950s, and she also worked for periods in South Africa and Uganda. Her publications include classic articles on matrilineal kinship, pioneering work on household economics and nutrition, and a unique study of the initiation ritual for young women among the Bemba, Chisungu. After a period as Director of the East African Institute of Social Research in Kampala, she returned to Cambridge in 1956, to a Fellowship at Newnham College and, as Smuts Reader in Commonwealth Studies, was founding Director of the University’s African Studies Centre. Richards involved generations of Cambridge students in a long-term collaborative ethnographic study of the village of Elmdon, not far from Cambridge in northern Essex, the results of which were published in 1981 by Marilyn Strathern as Kinship at the Core

Previous winners

2014 Lucy Lim Pembroke College
2015 Thomas Bevan Corpus Christi College
2016 Ida Svenonius Lucy Cavendish College
2017 Alexander Boyle Pembroke College
2018 William Turner

Queens’ College

2019 Kai Xing Yap

Emmanuel College


Filip Majdzinski

Fitzwilliam College


Sahar Mulji

Selwyn College

2023 Ambrose Leung Selwyn College