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Professor David Parkin

Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oxford

Social & Cultural Anthropology, Other Branches

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.

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 - )

Principal publications
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
Holistic Anthropology, 2007
Anthropology of Evil, 1985 (1986, 1989)
Islamic prayer across the Indian Ocean, 2000
Neighbours and Nationals in an African city, 1969 (2004)


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