Tales of Gluckman

Max Gluckman was one of the more enigmatic figures in post-World War 2 social anthropology. Some have suggested that his ‘Bridge’ essay is the single most important article in the discipline; others have dismissed him as a controversial figure, an anticolonial activist, and a critic of establishment views in the social sciences and in public life. Not only was he a complex person, but so was social anthropology in this era. Applying a method which emerged out of his Seminars, the extended case study, I examine his career and the impact of networks and socio-cultural milieu on his scholarly
innovations and life trajectory.

Prof Rob Gordon (Vermont/Free State) will discuss his recent biography of the famous anthropologist Max Gluckman, who established what became known as the ‘Manchester School’: The Enigma of Max Gluckman: The Ethnographic Life of a “Luckyman” in Africa. This book will be of interest to students of anthropology, and in particular in debates on decolonization, ethnographic life-writing, and biography.