Katherine Ambler (KCL) - 2017-18 Students

Ethnicity, urbanisation and labour relations: anthropology in Southern and Central Africa 1936 – 1956

My research examines the influence of radical and Marxist beliefs on scientific practice in colonial areas, by considering research into questions of ethnicity, urbanisation, labour relations and social justice undertaken by a coterie of anthropologists active in southern and central Africa in the mid-20th century. The project will focus on Max Gluckman and his peers and students, who were largely based at the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute (RLI) in Northern Rhodesia. Research will cover a 20-year period when this group worked together to produce innovative work inspired by a shared interest in industrialisation, urbanisation and ethnicity, anti-colonial sentiment, and sympathy for radical politics. The research will focus on questions including: How were the practices of anthropologists shaped by their political beliefs? How did politically engaged scientists secure resources for their research, form alliances and negotiate access to the field with colonial governments and businesses? By shifting the focus from rural and traditional communities to complex, modernising urban societies, how did the research undertaken in this period challenge understandings of colonial culture? How did the ideas about modern and urban forms of ethnicity developed in this period challenge contemporary views of race

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