Home    Number 2, 2019

The Earlier Pages of Raymond Firth’s Intellectual Biography

[Rannie stranitsy intellektual’noi biografii Reimonda Fiorsa]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150004876-3

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 22.08.2018

Accepted: 29.11.2018

About author(s)

Patrick Laviolette | http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1042-7043 | patrickl@tlu.ee | University College London (Gower Street, London, WC1E6BT, UK)


Raymond Firth, Aotearoa, New Zealand, Māori, history of anthropology, anthropological biography


As a preliminary biographical exploration, the article provides an introductory study into Raymond Firth’s early research, as it initially related to Māori issues. It uses archival and collaborative research techniques in looking at anthropology’s contemporary past. A significant interest in the biographic description of anthropologists is currently taking place. As a newly developing self-conscious genre, the intellectual biography is becoming central to the way in which the discipline writes its own history. The article thus demonstrates the use of experimental methods in creating an “archaeology of us”. In seeing the lesser known and largely disregarded elements of Firth’s personal history as a poorly investigated type of biographical data, I suggest that such interdisciplinary approaches are essential in conducting biographical research in a global era. Despite Firth’s contributions to the discipline, there is as yet no comprehensive biography of this internationally acclaimed anthropologist. By tracing his early career path and initial written work, the article contributes both to the ongoing project of such a biography and to expanding the scope of anthropological biographical genre in general.

Funding Information

This research was supported by the following institutions and grants:
Massey University’s Research Fund [2008]
Estonian Research Agency [project IUT 3-2]


Laviolette, P. 2019. Rannie stranitsy intellektual’noi biografii Reimonda Fiorsa [The Earlier Pages of Raymond Firth’s Intellectual Biography]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 2: 133-149. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150004876-3

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