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Professor David Parkin FBA

Social & Cultural Anthropology, Other Branches

About this Fellow

Parkin's focus has been on East Africa where he has carried out a number of years' fieldwork among different peoples and in different ecologies: the Luo of western Kenya, the Giriama of eastern Kenya, and Swahili-speakers in Zanzibar and Mombasa. He has studied the growth of ethnically mixed urban populations in Kampala, Uganda, where his interest in Luo first started, and in Nairobi, where he developed more fully his interest in Luo. Field research among the Giriama of Kenya began with a study of economic entrepreneurship, and continued into an analysis of the role of religion in pastoralism, agriculture and trade. Thereafter he concentrated on Islam among Swahili-speakers, extending this concern from the East African coast to the Hadhramaut, Oman and other areas of the Indian Ocean littoral. In later years he examined concepts of materiality, especially in relation to the human body, and became interested in the evolution of language. Current research is on the sociolinguistic consequences of new, global migratory patterns and on proliferating healthcare traditions. He is part of an initiative by the Royal Anthropological Institute to encourage university teaching and research in linguistic anthropology in the UK, and chairs an EASA network on anthropology and language. Socio-cultural areas of interest now include eastern Africa, China and northern European cities.



Current post

  • Emeritus Fellow, All Souls College, University of Oxford

Past Appointments

  • Professor of Social Anthropology and Fellow, All Souls College, University of Oxford, 1996 - 2008
  • Lecturer and Professor of Anthropology, SOAS, University Of London, 1965 - 1996


Other Anthropology and Geography Fellows

Professor John Mack

The anthropology and history of art and material culture, especially in equatorial Africa and the western Indian Ocean; comparative work on themes such as memory, miniaturisation, and the experience of the environment

Professor David Smith

Geographical aspects of inequality, social justice and morality, including exploration of the interface of geography and ethics; research in the USA, Eastern Europe and South Africa

Professor Stephen Daniels

The history of landscape representation, design and management; the landscape arts of eighteenth century Britain; the history of geographical knowledge and imagination

Dr Alan Baker

Historical geography: the development through time and distribution in space of leisure-related voluntary associations (especially musical societies and sports clubs) in rural France during the nineteenth century