Little Wins Anthropology Society Award

Contact: Ralph Derickson

Photo of Peter D. Little
Peter D. Little

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Little said his research in the past 25 years has included intensive field research and writing on East Africa and a concern with comparative research on social change, ecology, and development. During this time he has published more than 50 journal articles and book chapters and authored or co-authored six books.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 30, 2004) -- Peter D. Little, professor and chair of the University of Kentucky Department of Anthropology, has been named a joint winner of the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Amaury Talbot Prize for African Anthropology for his book, “Somalia: Economy Without State.”

The Royal Anthropological Institute, the world's longest-established scholarly association dedicated to the furtherance of anthropology, awards the annual Amaury Talbot Prize to the most valuable of the works of anthropological research published during the previous calendar year.

The book, published by Indiana University Press, is based on Little’s research in Somalia, covering the period 1986 to 2001. The research was supported by several grants, including an award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation that Little said enabled him to finish the research and write the book. “The Somalia situation is so complex and often characterized by popular and scholarly misrepresentations, I needed the time to produce a book-length manuscript to adequately address the topic,” said Little.

Somalia: Economy Without State” focuses on how rural populations have survived in Somalia after the collapse of a government in 1991. Little demonstrates that while there has not been a formal political state for the past 13 years, anarchy is not the norm. Somalis are resilient and opportunistic and they use their limited resources effectively, according to the publisher’s statement about the book.

While it is true that many Somalis live in the shadow of brutal warlords, Little focuses on those who have managed to carve out a productive means of making ends meet under difficult conditions and emphasizes the role of civic culture even when government no longer exists, the publisher adds.

Little said his research in the past 25 years has included intensive field research and writing on East Africa and a concern with comparative research on social change, ecology, and development. During this time he has published more than 50 journal articles and book chapters and authored or co-authored six books. He became interested in East Africa after a semester-abroad experience in Kenya in the 1970s when he was an undergraduate at Tulane University. With this interest in the region and its people, he went on to pursue advanced degrees in anthropology and African Studies at Indiana University.

Little, who travels to East Africa at least one or two times per year, said, “I remain as excited about conducting research in the region as when I was an undergraduate student.”


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