An Academic Skating on Thin Ice

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Peter Worsley’s studies at Cambridge were interrupted by war service as a communist officer in the colonial forces in Africa and India, and it was here that he developed a keen interest in anthropology. He work in mass education in Tanganyika and then studied with Max Gluckman at Manchester University. Banned from re-entering Africa, Worsley went to Australia where he was banned once more, this time from New Guinea, yet he did succeed in completing field-research for his Ph.D. on an Australian Aboriginal tribe.

His subsequent book on ‘Cargo’ cults in Melanesia is now regarded as a classic, but his left-wing politics ensured that he could not get a job in anthropology, so he switched to sociology, on his return to Manchester.

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About the Author:

Peter Worsley†, winner of the Curl Prize of the Royal Anthropological Institute, became first Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester. He went to China a few months after Nixon and, upon retirement, taught in New York. His book, The Third World, introduced that term into the English language, while the Penguin edition of Introducing Sociology sold over half a million copies.

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"...the autobiography of Professor Peter Worsley, the author of the classic The trumpet shall sound: a study of 'cargo' cults in Melanesia, and Introducing sociology, and tireless public intellectual striving for political and economic justice for the 'Third World', stands as a fine example of how the history of the discipline should be taught – contextually, with strong externalist emphasis and with methodological individualism in sight."  ·  Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale

"This vivid and attractively written memoir of a long and (for an academic) eventful life never loses sight of the truth that every biography is set against a wider history...Few anthropologists have struck out so boldly, and written across such an extraordinary range as he has. This memoir discloses the intellectual vitality and generosity of spirit which underlay that achievement."  ·  JRAI

“Peter Worsley's vividly remembered and incisively told Autobiography is an important addition to the history of the social sciences. He is a major figure in both anthropology and sociology, whose work is widely read and discussed today. A formidable thinker who introduced 'The Third World' into English, he is not only an important theoretician and ethnographer, but also a central founding member of the 'New Left' in Britain. This is a book which captures with great honesty a rich and varied life and a major moment in British intellectual history.”  · Alan Macfarlane, Professor of Anthropological Science at the University of Cambridge

“Worsley takes the reader on a roller coaster tour of his own fascinating life's intellectual journey and the many different worlds he has critically encountered. His published work over many decades has always been at the vanguard of a critical comprehension of the diverse directions of global change. Here, with his characteristic insight, sparkle and wit, Worsley guides the reader through his personal voyage of understanding, often with an openness that recalls Rousseau's Confessions in whose tradition this work is set.”  · Bruce Kapferer, Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen, Adjunct Professor at James Cook University and Honorary Professor at University College London

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