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E E Evans-Pritchard

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Sir Edward Evan (E. E.) Evans-Pritchard



1902-1973: British Social Anthropologist







Strengths: wrote extensively, an influential teacher throughout his life, had a huge impact on the study of African societies and the study of non-western belief systems.



Weaknesses: his later work was not as well recognized as his earlier writings.



Special Features: During WWII, he served in Ethiopia, Libya, Sudan, and Syria. He raised irregular troops among the Anuak to harass the Italians and engaged in guerilla warfare. He was a knight.




Evans- Pritchard was born in Sussex, England, in 1902. He conducted fieldwork among the Azande people of the upper Nile and The Nuer tribes of southern Sudan. His books, (The Nuer and the Azande) gave him a good reputation among the anthropology community. However, his later work was more theoretical and did not become as well known as his earlier work. He claimed that anthropology should not be viewed as a natural science but instead should be grouped among the humanities. He believed that anthropologists should analyze societies by taking into account local people’s views, and should not rely on their own prior ideas about a culture. An anthropologist must therefore understand people’s behaviors and thoughts within the cultural context in which the people live. He valued meaning and context in cultures, and saw societies as moral systems rather than natural systems. He was knighted in 1971 and died in Oxford in 1973.



Selected Bibliography:


 Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande. 1937


The Nuer 1940


The Sanusi of Cyrenaica. 194


Kinship and Marriage Among the Nuer. 1951


Nuer Religion. 1956


Theories of Primitive Religion. 1965

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