Marilyn Strathern

2018 Balzan Prize for Social Anthropology

For the profoundly innovative character of her contributions to social and cultural anthropology, and especially for her critique of Western understandings of gender and equality, and her associated explorations of how familiar concepts work differently in different contexts.

Biographical and Bibliographical Data

Marilyn Strathern (Professor Dame Marilyn Strathern FBA), born on 6 March 1941 in North Wales (née Evans), is a UK citizen.

Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology and Life Fellow of Girton College, University of Cambridge, Dame Marilyn is also Honorary Life President of the Association of Social Anthropologists of UK and Commonwealth (ASA).

She was an undergraduate and then a research student at Girton College, where she studied archaeology and anthropology. She received her PhD in 1968.

Professor Strathern was made a Fellow of the British Academy in 1987, Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2001 and has been awarded several Honorary degrees from universities in Europe, Papua New Guinea, the USA and Australia.

Besides her intensive field work in Papua New Guinea, she has held numerous academic positions throughout her career, during which she developed her interests in both Melanesian and British ethnography. Her career began in 1970, as a Researcher for the New Guinea Research Unit of the Australian National University, followed by a stint from 1976 to 1983 as lecturer at Girton College and then Trinity College from 1984 to 1985, with occasional guest lectures in the USA (University of California, Berkeley), in Europe and in Australia. She left Cambridge to become Professor of Social Anthropology at Manchester University in 1985. She returned to Cambridge again in 1993 to take up the position of William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology until her retirement in 2008. During this time, she also held the position of Mistress of Girton College (1998-2009). Dame Marilyn was on the Nuffield Council on Bioethics from 2000 to 2006, to which she was later co-opted while chairing the Working Party on “Human bodies: donation for medicine and research” from 2010 to 2011.

She is or has sat on many editorial and advisory boards for peer-reviewed journals, including History of the Human Sciences, University of Durham; British Medical Anthropology Review, London; Cadernos Pagu, Núcleo de Estudos de Gênero, Campinas, Brazil; Cultural Dynamics, Sage: London; Cultural Values, Institute for Cultural Research, Lancaster; Anthropology and Medicine, London; Mana: Estudos de Antropologia Social, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Economy & Society, London; The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, Canberra; Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, London; Mediações: Revista de Sciências Sociais, Universidade Estadual de Londrina, Brazil; Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, online; L’Homme, EHESS, Paris; Cadernos de Campo, São Paulo.

Dame Marilyn is the author of numerous single-authored journal articles, book chapters and books, among which we would mention:

Die Flughöhe der Adler. Historische Essays zur globalen Gegenwart. München: Beck 2017 (spanische Übersetzung 2018).

Before and after gender: Sexual mythologies of everyday life [originally written 1974], edited with Introduction by Sarah Franklin, with Afterword by J Butler. HAU books: Chicago University Press, 2016.

Learning to see in Melanesia. Four lectures given in the Department of Social Anthropology, Cambridge University, 1993-2008, with Introduction by Giovanni da Col. HAU Masterclass Series (vol 2), online, 2013.

Kinship, law and the unexpected: Relatives are often a surprise. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Translated by Stella Zagatto Paterniani, as Parentesco, direito e o inesperado: Parentes são sempre uma surpresa. São Paulo: Editoria Unesp, 2015.

(with Eric Hirsch) Transactions and creations: Property debates and the stimulus of Melanesia. Oxford: Berghahn, 2004.

(ed.) Audit cultures. Anthropological studies in accountability, ethics and the academy. London: Routledge, 2000.

Property, substance and effect. Anthropological essays on persons and things. London: Athlone Press, 1999.
(ed.) Shifting contexts. Transformations in anthropological knowledge. London: Routledge, 1995.

(with Jeanette Edwards, Sarah Franklin, Eric Hirsch and Frances Price) Technologies of procreation. Kinship in the age of assisted conception. Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press, 1993. Second edition, London: Routledge, 1999.

Reproducing the future. Essays on anthropology, kinship and the new reproductive technologies. Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press/Routledge, Chapman & Hall, 1992. Translation, under the direction of Dimitra Gefou-Madianou, Athens: Ellenika Grammata, 2008.

After nature. English kinship in the late twentieth century. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992.

with Maurice Godelier) (joint editor) Big men and great men. Personifications of power in Melanesia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Paris: MSH, 1991.

Partial Connections. Savage, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 1991. Reissued by AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek CA, 2004. Translated by Marija Zidar, edited by Maja Petrovic-Steger, as Pisanje antropologijo. Ljubljana: Koda, Studentska zalozba, 2008. Translated by Takashi Osugi, Tokyo: Suisei-sha, 2016.

The gender of the gift. Problems with women and problems with society in Melanesia. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988. Translated by André Villalobos, edited by Mariza Corrêa, as O gênero da dávida: Problemas com as mulheres e problemas com a sociedade na Melanésia. Campinas, SP: Editoria da Unicamp, 2006.

(ed.) Dealing with inequality. Analysing gender relations in Melanesia and beyond. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1987.

Kinship at the core: An anthropology of Elmdon, Essex. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

(with Carol MacCormack) Nature, culture and gender. Cambridge: Cambridge UP Ch. No nature/ no culture: The Hagen case, 1980. Reprinted in Cultural Anthropology, K and M Fortun (eds.)., London: Sage, 2009.

Women in between. Female roles in a male world. Mt Hagen, New Guinea. London: Academic (Seminar) Press, 1972. Reissued by Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham MD, 1995.

(with Andrew Strathern) Self-decoration in Mount Hagen. London: Duckworth 1971.

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