Richards, Audrey I. (Audrey Isabel), 1899-1984

Alternative names
Birth 1899-07-08
Death 1984-06-29

Biographical notes:

Dr Audrey Richards, 1899-1984, was the daughter of Sir Henry Erle Richards, a legal member of the vice-regal council of India. She attended Downe House School near Newbury and read Natural Sciences at Cambridge. After graduating, she worked as an assistant to Gilbert Murray, and from 1924 to 1928 was Secretary of the Labour Department of the League of Nations Union. Richards registered as a PhD student at the London School of Economics in 1928 under C G Seligman. She carried out anthropological fieldwork among the Bemba of Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, from 1930 to 1931, returning to the School to become lecturer in Social Anthropology, 1933-1934. The major subjects of her Bemba research were food production and nutrition and, because women were the principal farmers, women's work and women's lives. She also investigated Bemba politics and government. From 1937 to 1949 she was senior lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. During the Second World War, Richards worked for the Colonial Office and was closely connected with the Colonial Social Science Research Council. She returned to the LSE in 1946 as a Reader in Social Anthropology, going on to become director of the East African Institute of Social Research, Makerere University in 1950. Here she carried out extensive research, partly in co-operation with her colleagues, into Ugandan and particularly Bugandan affairs. This research concentrated on political and economic organisation. From 1956 to 1966, she was Fellow of Newnham College Cambridge, and from 1966 she held the Smuts Readership.

From the guide to the RICHARDS, Audrey Isabel, 1899-1984, anthropologist, 1902-1984, (British Library of Political and Economic Science)


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  • Government
  • Anthropology
  • Ethnic groups
  • Tribes
  • Agriculture
  • Women scientists


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  • South Africa Southern Africa (as recorded)
  • Buganda Uganda East Africa (as recorded)
  • Zambia Southern Africa (as recorded)
  • London England (as recorded)