Zora Neale Hurston was an author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. As an African American woman, she often depicted racial issues in the films she made. Her works also reflected her struggles as a black woman. In her early career, she conducted anthropological and ethnographic research and focused more on writing and film-making in her later years.
One of the most celebrated anthropologists to have ever existed, Margaret Mead is remembered for his research on a broad range of topics, such as sexual conventions in Western society. Of her 23 books, the most talked-about was the bestseller Coming of Age in Samoa.
Ruth Benedict was an American folklorist and anthropologist. Benedict, who played an important role in the American Folklore Society, also served as the American Anthropological Association's president; the association gives away an annual prize named after Ruth Benedict. In 2005, she was made an inductee of the National Women's Hall of Fame.
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.
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.
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.
12 Gayle Rubin
Gayle Rubin is a cultural anthropologist known for writing on a wide range of topics, such as feminism, sadomasochism, prostitution, homosexuality, pedophilia, and pornography. She studied at the University of Michigan and was part of early feminist groups. After earning her Ph.D. in anthropology, she began her academic career. She is also associated with several feminist journals.
13 Helen Fisher
Best known for her research on the biological dynamics of love and sex, anthropologist Helen Fisher has also penned iconic self-help books such as Anatomy of Love and Why We Love. She has also worked with match.com, to develop a personality-based compatibility system and has been a TED speaker.
14 Kate Fox
15 Eva Justin
18 Sula Benet
20 Pearl Primus
23 Meave Leakey
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.
Apart from teaching at the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science, Australian anthropologist Genevieve Bell has also had an 18-year stint at Silicon Valley as an Intel Fellow. The Stanford alumna is also a TED speaker and has been named an Officer of the Order of Australia.
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.
32 Eliane Karp
Born to a Polish father and a Belgian mother in Paris, anthropologist and academic Eliane Karp later studied in Jerusalem, before moving to Stanford. The wife of former president of Peru Alejandro Toledo, she was dragged out of court, while cursing, after Toledo was denied bail in a bribery case.
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.