Robin Thelwall
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  • Calgary, Alberta
  • Canada
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Robin Thelwall
School/Organization/Current anthropological attachment
Anthropology Dept, U of Calgary

How did I get here?

After Mod Lgs at Oxford I moved to Edinburgh in 1964 and via gf fell among anthropologists think Kenneth Little and Michael Banton, but actually took postgrad in Phonetics.
First full-time job in U of Khartoum where I overlapped with Talal Asad, Ian Cunnison and Wendy James, plus did field linguistics in Nuba Mts and Darfur. O tempora o mores...
My best mentor was Gunnar Haaland and through him contact with Fred Barth and the Bergen crowd. First academic article was socio-linguistic. From then until 2003 I played the linguistics game but fell into an Anthropology black hole when asked to take over ethnosurvey course on N Africa here in Calgary. Clearly I was a 'desert walla'. Now I also cover sub-Sahara and a special course on Darfur.

My favorite focus is on interaction between environment and subsistence (especially nomads) and I may perhaps get drawn in to theory tho it's not really my style, but as I found in phonetics and linguistics - There is No Theory Free Descriptive Anything. Just like TANSTAFL (Vonnegut).

I am still looking for a neat intro to kinship and subsistence patterns...

I don't read enough but am always open to good short cut recommendations. Plus I have a really hard time with style-challenged authors.

June 2009 Calgary and points West.

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African anthropology - epistemology

Dear Colleagues,

I am teaching an ethnographic survey course on Sub-Saharan Africa and realise I need an idiot's guide to epistemology of anthropology (and of course Everything Else!).

Any quick concise references? I am a lapsed fan of Popper and (probably) a non-phenomenologist, but my philosophy is a bit rusty so any help you can offer will be most welcome,

The Reader I am using - Perspectives on Africa eds Grinker & Steiner - makes my blood boil at certain points but it… Continue

Posted on September 6, 2009 at 2:21pm — 2 Comments

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