Economic organization, property relations, religion, civil society, ethnicity and nationalism
Hungary, Poland, Turkey, Xinjiang
I was born and brought up in Wales, but my university education is from Oxford (BA 1974 in Politics, Philosophy and Economics) and Cambridge (PhD, Social Anthropology, 1979). I stayed on in Cambridge as a Research Fellow at Corpus Christi College, and later I became a lecturer at the Department of Social Anthropology. Between 1992 and joining the Max Planck Society in 1999 I was Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Kent at Canterbury. I retain the title Honorary Professor at Kent, and also at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg and the University of Leipzig.
My main research interests date back to my undergraduate days and my first fieldwork projects in rural Hungary and Poland. I followed up with a comparative investigation of smallholders in a capitalist context on the Black Sea coast of Turkey (with Dr. Ildikó Bellér-Hann, nowadays based at the University of Copenhagen). My work on religion derives primarily from my encounter with the Greek Catholic minority in Poland, an interest that later expanded to eastern Christians in general. After 2006 I resumed fieldwork in Xinjiang in the form of a contribution to the departmental Focus Group investigating social support and kinship in China and Vietnam (again jointly with Dr. Ildikó Bellér-Hann). I maintain strong interests in comparative economic organization, in part through collaborative projects with Catherine Alexander, Stephen Gudeman, Keith Hart, Don Kalb and Jonathan Parry. All of this work is designed to break down disciplinary boundaries and contribute to a better understanding of Eurasia in world history. The concept of Eurasia is the principal frame for all research in my Department.
I am a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and an Ordentliches Mitglied of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. In 2015 I was awarded the Rivers Memorial Medal by the Royal Anthropological Institute. In 2019 I was presented with the Huxley Medal by the same Institute. In 2020 I became a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and a foreign member of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences.