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Dame Marilyn Strathern FBA

Social & Cultural Anthropology, Other Branches

About this Fellow

Strathern studied Social Anthropology at Girton College, Cambridge (PhD 1968). After a spell in the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, she held posts in Canberra (ANU) and Port Moresby before returning to the UK. This was when she was Hon. Editor of the RAI journal Man. She moved to her first full departmental appointment in 1985, taking up the chair in Social Anthropology at Manchester University, to be followed by the William Wyse Professorship of Social Anthropology in Cambridge in 1993. Strathern was concurrently Mistress of Girton College between1988-2009. Papua New Guinea has been a principal area of fieldwork, from 1964 to most recently in 2015, although she is also intrigued by developments in knowledge practices in the UK and Europe. Initial work on gender relations led in two directions: feminist scholarship & the new reproductive technologies (1980s-1990s), and legal systems & intellectual and cultural property (1970s, 1990-00s). Subsequent work on regimes of audit and accountability has attracted interdisciplinary attention. Formerly Presidential Chair of the European Association of Social Anthropologists, Trustee of the National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, and member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, she is now Hon. Life President of the Association of Social Anthropologists.


Current post

  • Professor Emerita, Cambridge University

Past Appointments

  • Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Manchester, 1985 - 1993
  • William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge, 1993 - 2008
  • Mistress, Girton College University of Cambridge, 1998 - 2009

British Academy Appointments

  • Member of Council, 2000 - 2002


Partial Connections 1991


Property, substance and effect 1999


Women in between 1972


The gender of the gift 1988


After nature 1992


Kinship, Law and the Unexpected 2005


Other Anthropology and Geography Fellows