Correspondence file: Elizabeth Colson

Scope and Content

The contents of the file include:

  • GLU/1/3, copy letter, 10 Mar 1960 Gluckman discusses possibility of giving lectures on "Primitive law and contemporary social anthropology" at Brandeis University.
  • GLU/1/5-7, Gluckman's difficulties in getting a US visa (17 Oct 1960), and he refers to his problems in Australia as "incredibly exhausting" (March 1961) [Gluckman had experienced difficulties with the Australian authorities over a field trip to Papua-New Guinea in 1960].
  • GLU/1/13-24, Colson's plans to publish a book of essays (1961).
  • GLU/1/31, 16 Apr 1963, Colson says she is using Vic Turner's ideas on symbolism in her work on the Tonga; also criticises Meyer Fortes' definitions of status and roles as insufficiently precise.
  • GLU/1/32, 21 Jan 1964, Colson's move to position at Northwestern University [Illinois]; her treatment for malaria.
  • GLU/1/33, copy letter, 23 Jan 1964, Gluckman considers Colson "most under-rated anthropologist in terms of appointment in the whole of the United States".
  • GLU/1/37, 6 May 1964, Colson mentions her use of Gluckman's concept of the "Village-Wife" in her work on the Lele.
  • GLU/1/39, 14 Oct 1964, Colson outlines her objections to Raymond Apthorpe's criticisms of the 'Manchester School' in his foreword to Bronislaw Stefaniszyn's Social and ritual life of the Ambo of Northern Rhodesia, (New York 1964).
  • GLU/1/40, 20 May 1965, Colson reports a very positive response to Closed systems and open minds in the USA; also informs him she is using his ideas on rituals of rebellion in her Berkeley lectures.
  • GLU/1/53-54, references for Colson by Gluckman.
  • GLU/1/55, undated drafts by Gluckman to an edition of Colson's essays.

Administrative / Biographical History

Elizabeth Colson was educated at the University of Minnesota and Radcliffe College. She undertook her early research on the Makah Indians (USA), before studying the Plateau Tonga in Northern Rhodesia, whilst attached to the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute. In 1948 she was appointed director of the Institute. Between 1951-1953, she was a senior research fellow at the University of Manchester. She returned to the United States in 1953, where she held a number of senior academic appointments before becoming professor at University of California, Berkeley in 1964, where she remained until retirement in 1987.

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