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A Touch of Genius: The Life, Work and Influence of Sir Edward Evans-Pritchard

Edited by André Singer

Vol. 4 of the RAI Book Series.

Evans-Pritchard was perhaps the most influential anthropological scholar of the twentieth century. His extraordinary work in Africa has formed a central foundation to anthropological thought since the 1930s, with generations of anthropologists having read and appreciated his ethnographies of the Azande, Nuer and Sanusi, and his analyses of social structures, belief systems and history. And yet, though so much has been written about his work, a rounded understanding of the person has proved elusive.

This volume covers Evans-Pritchard as a promising student, a young graduate in search of career opportunities, an adventurous cultural explorer, a determined officer in the Second World War, and an ambitious department-building professor with a global reputation. Against a glittering array of contexts and characters – from Malinowski to Marett to the Maharaj of Kutch; from Oxford poets and pubs to Catholic conversion in war-torn Libya – there emerges a fascinating study of a figure who was much more than an innovative anthropologist.

A portrait of the man and his time is composed from personal correspondence, archives and familial recollections, contributions from surviving friends and students, and accounts by those, including contemporary African scholars, who continue to debate and re-evaluate his work in all its complexity. This book is a fitting monument to Evans-Pritchard’s legacy and a landmark in anthropological historiography.

No other anthropologist has had Evans-Pritchard’s unique combination of theoretical sophistication and ethnographic skill in a number of very different contexts, and personal charisma. This volume will be an essential reference for anyone seeking to understand the mercurial man behind the classic monographs.
David N. Gellner, Professor of Social Anthropology and Fellow of All Souls, University of Oxford

What emerges in this remarkable volume is a complex character whose attributes cannot be easily and holistically represented, but he vividly comes through in biographical accounts, interpersonal correspondence, recollections of family members, friends, students and colleagues, and, of course, his own scholarship.
Ambassador Francis Deng, United Nations Special Representative on Human Rights, and Special Representative for the Prevention of Genocide until 2012

A valuable contribution to the discipline’s history through his time; both locally in Oxford, and globally.
Hilary Callan, Director Emerita, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland

André Singer is is Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Southern California and Professorial Research Associate at London School of Oriental and African Studies.maker in the Department of Anthropology and Cultural Research of the University of Bremen.

Published in association with the Royal Anthropological Institute

Ebook, ISBN 978-1-912385-50-8, OPEN ACCESS (link)

Hardback, ISBN 978-1-912385-48-5, £130.00 (GBP), $175.00 (USD)

Paperback offer for RAI Fellows £30.00 (plus P&P) contact admin@therai.org.uk.