Who is Edmund Leach?June 25, 2021
Edmund Leach Sir Edmund Ronald Leach was a British social anthropologist and thinker who lived from 7 November 1910 to 6 January 1989. Leach served as vice-chancellor at King’s College, Cambridge from 1966 to 1979. He was also president of the Royal Anthropological Institute from 1971 to 1975.
Edmund Leach was born in Sidmouth, Devon, the youngest of three children and the son of William Edmund Leach and Mildred Brierley. His father was the owner and manager of a sugar factory in northern Argentina. In 1940 Leach married Celia Joyce, who was then a painter and later published poetry books and two novels. The couple had a daughter in 1941 and a son in 1946.
Leach was educated at Marlborough College and Clare College, from where he graduated with honors in engineering in 1932.
With an engineering degree from Clare College, he spent four years working for a trading firm in China. Leach’s academic career, whose interest in other cultures increased in this process, would be greatly influenced by these studies. He earned his PhD in social anthropology at the London School of Economics (LSE) in 1947, where he was appointed its first assistant professor. He left this post in 1953 to work at Cambridge.
Edmund Leach, as a social anthropologist, went to Iraq in 1938 to study the Kurds, and after his work there, he published his work “Social and Economic Organization of the Rowanduz Kurds”. Leach returned to England before completing his studies in Iraq.
Leach’s field work was not limited to Iraq. Leach; Botel has worked in various parts of Asia, including Tobago (an island off Taiwan), Burma (Myanmar) and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). His interest in engineering is evident in his writings and sketches in these detailed field studies as an anthropologist.
Leach spent a lot of time in Burma, including a time serving as a soldier. His most famous work, “Political Systems of Highland Burma: a Study in Kachin Social Structure” (1954), was also the result of his long-term work here. The book’s popularity was largely due to its use of innovative methods to address social and political change by examining broad and diverse fields rather than examining a single society or tribe.
Leach widened the gap between English structural functionality (exemplified by Radcliffe-Brown and Malinowski) and French structuralism (exemplified by Levi-Strauss). Although Leach was one of the main interpreters of Levi-Strauss’s work and produced several introductory works on Levi-Strauss’s theoretical perspective, he still considered himself, in essence, a functionalist.
His book “Lévi-Strauss” has been translated into six languages and has gone through three editions.
Edmund Leach died on January 6, 1989, and his funeral was held in King’s College Chapel.
Translation and Compilation: Sociologist Ömer Yıldırım
Source: Fields of Study: Who is Sir Edmund Leach, the Social Anthropologist?