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Department of Social Anthropology


The Department was sad to hear of the death of James Woodburn, one of the best-known anthropologists of hunter-gatherer and egalitarian societies.

James Woodburn taught at the LSE for many years. He was an alumnus of Cambridge and a good friend to our Department. He started studying History at Christ's College, but then was quickly diverted to national service, in 1952. Afterwards, he returned, and captivated by a chance meeting with Meyer Fortes, he decided to read Archaeology and Anthropology. He then studied for his PhD with Fortes and Edmund Leach, Aidan Southall (at Makerere University), and Jack Goody for a time, conducting fieldwork in (then) Tanganyika, and graduating in 1964 with a thesis entitled ‘Social organisation of the Hadza of North Tanganyika’While at the LSE, he maintained a relationship with Cambridge, often attending our Friday seminars, including after his retirement.

For further information please read the tribute from the LSE here.

His interview with Alan Macfarlane, including memories of his time in Cambridge, can be found here.