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Professor David Parkin FBA

Social & Cultural Anthropology, Other Branches
Professor David Parkin FBA profile picture

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 Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oxford

Past Appointments

  • Lecturer and Professor of Anthropology, Soas, University Of London, 1984 - 1996
  • Professor of Anthropology, University of Oxford, 1996
  • Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oxford, University of Oxford, 1996


Holistic Anthropology 2007

Islamic prayer across the Indian Ocean 2000

Anthropology of Evil 1985 (1986, 1989)

Neighbours and Nationals in an African city 1969 (2004)

Palms, wine and witnesses. Public spirit and private gain in an African farm community 1972 (1994)

The cultural definition of political response: lineal destiny among the Luo of Kenya 1978

The sacred void: spatial images of work and ritual among the Giriama of Kenya 1991

Other Anthropology and Geography Fellows

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