American Philosophical Society
Member History

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407. Philosophy[X]
1Name:  Dame Marilyn Strathern
 Institution:  University of Cambridge
 Year Elected:  2016
 Class:  4. Humanities
 Subdivision:  407. Philosophy
 Residency:  International
 Living? :   Living
 Birth Date:  1941
Marilyn Strathern describes herself as a conventional social anthropologist. A product of the Cambridge School of Social Anthropology at its heyday in the 1960s, she carried out fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, her texts reflecting issues largely within the discipline rather than outside it (Mary Douglas once called her -- not altogether flatteringly -- ‘an anthropologist’s anthropologist’). These days she has an interdisciplinary audience. Strathern’s interests have been fairly consistently divided between Melanesian and British ethnography. She is probably most well known for The gender of the gift (1988), a critique of anthropological theories of society and gender relations applied to Melanesia, which she herself pairs with After nature: English kinship in the late twentieth century (1992), a comment on the cultural revolution at home. Her most experimental work is an exercise on the comparative method called Partial connections (1991). Projects over the last twenty five years are reflected in publications on reproductive technologies, intellectual and cultural property rights and interdisciplinarity, although it is her brief work on regimes of audit and accountability that has attracted most widespread attention. Some of these themes are brought together in Kinship, law and the unexpected (2005). Papua New Guinea is never far from her concerns, her most recent visit to Mt Hagen being in 2015. Her first departmental position was at the University of Manchester, UK. Now an emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology, Strathern retired from the Cambridge Department of Social Anthropology in 2008 and from being head of Cambridge’s Girton College in 2009. A fellow of the British Academy since 1987, she received a national honour (DBE) in 2001, and is currently (hon.) Life President of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth.
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