Jane Goodall is an English anthropologist and primatologist. Goodall's research proved that chimpanzees could use tools like stalks of grass to fish out termites from termite holes; this also challenged the long-held belief that chimpanzees were vegetarians. Goodall also discovered that chimpanzees are capable of emotions like sorrow and joy. Goodall is also credited with founding the Jane Goodall Institute.
Herbert Spencer was the man behind the expression “survival of the fittest,” after reading Charles Darwin's iconic work On the Origin of Species. The British anthropologist, sociologist, and philosopher introduced the concept of Social Darwinism, which applied the theory of evolution to societies and social classes.
Son of British missionaries in Kenya, Louis Leakey spent his early days amid the Kikuyu people near Nairobi. With an elite education at Cambridge, he later revolutionized the fields of paleoanthropology and archaeology. His study of fossils in East Africa proved humans were older than previously thought.
British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace is largely remembered for his theory of evolution through natural selection, which inspired Charles Darwin’s studies. He began his career as a surveyor’s apprentice and later introduced concepts such as reinforcement in animals, also known as the Wallace effect. He was awarded the Order of Merit.
Thomas Henry Huxley was an English biologist and anthropologist. He specialized in comparative anatomy and was a proponent of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Despite having little formal schooling, he went on to become one of the finest comparative anatomists of the 19th century. He was the chair of natural history at the Royal School of Mines for 31 years.
Known for his pioneering work in cultural anthropology, Edward Burnett Tylor penned iconic works such as Primitive Culture, which was partially influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution. Born to affluent Quaker parents, he quit school to focus on his business but was later drawn to anthropology. He popularized the term animism.
David Harvey is a Marxist economic geographer, podcaster, and a fellow of the British Academy. He is currently a distinguished professor of anthropology and geography at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He has authored many books and essays and is one of the most cited authors of books in the humanities and social sciences.
Social anthropologist E. E. Evans-Pritchard is best remembered for his research on witchcraft, magic, and African cultures. Apart from teaching anthropology at Oxford, his alma, he had also worked in South Sudan and penned books such as Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande. He was also knighted for his achievements.
Best known for his work on the pre-industrialized societies, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown visited Andaman Island and Western Australia to study the social structure of the people there, later writing two important books on them. A renowned scholar, he taught at various preeminent universities across the globe before returning to England to establish the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford.
Best known for her book Purity and Danger, anthropologist Mary Douglas specialized in human culture and comparative religion. Initially employed with the British Colonial Office, she later worked with the matrilineal community of the Lele people of Kasai. She was known to be a devout Catholic.
Gregory Bateson was an English anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, and visual anthropologist. Along with his colleagues, he developed the double-bind theory of schizophrenia. Also a cyberneticist, he was part of the core group of the Macy Conferences in Cybernetics. He was a member of philosopher William Irwin Thompson's esoteric nonprofit foundation Lindisfarne Association.
British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey had exhibited her interest in drawing and archaeology as a kid. Most of her career was spent working alongside her husband, Louis Leakey. She was in charge of many excavation projects in Kenya. Her discoveries include the first Proconsul skull fossil and 15 new animal species.
British Egyptologist and anthropologist Margaret Murray was also a scholar of witchcraft. Her best-known work is her 1921 book The Witch Cult in Western Europe, which inspired later witchcraft scholars such as Gerald B. Gardner. The University College London professor had worked in places such as Egypt, Malta, and Petra.
Best known for his work on symbols and rituals, British cultural anthropologist Victor Turner embarked on his lifelong study of the Ndembu people when as a young man he went to Zambia to work as a research officer. Spending his entire career studying rituals and rites of passage, he later applied them to world religion, publishing important works on them.
Ernest Gellner was a British-Czech philosopher and social anthropologist who was considered one of the leading theoreticians on nationalism. A prolific author, he was able to attract critical attention with his very first book, Words and Things, in which he fiercely attacked what he called linguistic philosophy. He eventually developed an interest in social anthropology, before turning his attention to nationalism.
British-American anthropologist Ashley Montagu not only taught at Rutgers and The State University of New Jersey but also wrote UNESCO’s 1950 Statement on Race. He also dabbled in topics such as evolution and child care, and one of his best-known works is The Natural Superiority of Women.
English anthropologist and psychologist W. H. R. Rivers is best remembered for his work on the Todas of the Nilgiri Hills. A qualified physician, he also taught at Cambridge and worked extensively on medical psychology. One of his best-known works is Kinship and Social Organisation.
British banker John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury, better known as Sir John Lubbock, had also been an MP. However, he is best known for his contribution to ethnography and archaeology. He is also credited with coining the terms Paleolithic and Neolithic, and is known for his books on animal behavior.
Timothy Ingold, a British anthropologist, is a Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. He discussed his entire career in the book From science to art and back again: The pendulum of an anthropologist. Ingold taught at the University of Helsinki (1973–74) and thereafter at the University of Manchester; he became professor in 1990 and Max Gluckman Professor in 1995.
Apart from teaching at Cambridge, British social anthropologist Jack Goody also penned books such as Death, Property and the Ancestors. He had also fought in World War II. His work in sociology earned him the knighthood. He was also made a Fellow of The British Academy.
British paleoanthropologist Meave Leakey discovered a new branch of the human species, the Kenyanthropus platyops, or the flat-faced man of Kenya. Initially a zoologist in Nairobi, she studied modern monkeys as part of her doctoral research. She is the first Kenyan to be a National Academy of Sciences member.
While she performs as a musician using the name Georgina Born, Georgina Emma Mary Born is also a successful anthropologist and academician, known for her research on music, culture, and media. A bass guitarist and cellist for the rock group Henry Cow, she also uses ethnography to study culture.
British-American anthropologist Colin Turnbull is best remembered for his books The Forest People and The Mountain People. After serving the naval reserves during World War II, he worked as a researcher at the Banaras Hindu University before returning to Oxford. He also taught at the George Washington University.
Best known as the pioneer of the Manchester School of anthropology, Max Gluckman is remembered for his extensive research on the law and politics of Africa. Apart from conducting fieldwork among the Ila, Tonga, and Lamba people, he had also taught at Oxford and Manchester.
Arthur Keith was a Scottish anthropologist and anatomist. In 1893, he was honored with the first Struthers Prize for successfully demonstrating the functionality of ligaments in apes and humans. He is also credited with publishing several important works, such as An Introduction to the Study of Anthropoid Apes and A New Theory of Human Evolution.
A pioneer of British anthropology, Alfred Cort Haddon is remembered for his contribution of over three decades to Cambridge. While he initially went to the Torres Strait to study marine biology, he later devoted himself to the study of the indigenous people. His History of Anthropology remains his best-known work.
English biologist and anthropologist Walter Baldwin Spencer is remembered for his pioneering study of the indigenous population of Australia. He initially taught biology but later drifted to anthropology. He was also knighted but died while on an expedition to study the Ushuaia of the Tierra del Fuego.
The writer and co-producer of the Emmy-nominated series Ring of Fire, Lawrence Blair is an English anthropologist who has lived in Bali for over three decades now. Born in England, he later moved to Mexico. He has been a diver, a fisherman, an actor, a model, and a photographer.
Audrey Richards, a pioneering British social anthropologist, produced notable ethnographic studies. She is best known for Chisingu: A Girl's initiation ceremony among the Bemba of Zambia. Her works covered a wide range of topics including nutrition, family structure, migration, and ethnicity. Audrey was also the first woman to hold the position of president of the Royal Anthropological Institute; she held it from 1964 to 1965.
Particularly known for his work on economic anthropology, Chris Hann became interested in the subject while undertaking his first fieldwork in socialist Hungary and Poland, later supplementing his research by undertaking a comparative investigation in the post-socialist period. Later, he extended his work to include Turkey and Xinjian, concurrently diversifying his topics to include religion, civil society, ethnicity and nationalism.
Especially known for his works on Chinese society and culture, British anthropologist Maurice Freedman became interested in the subject while doing field work in Singapore. Initially a professor at London School of Economics & Political Science and later at University of Oxford, he undertook a comprehensive study of Chinese society, publishing numerous works on its marriage, kinship, rules and religion.