Correspondence file: Alfred Radcliffe-Brown

Scope and Content

Subjects covered in the correspondence include:

  • GLU/9/2-10, 3 Apr [1950]-26 Apr 1950, re. Radcliffe-Brown's "understanding human society" lectures at the University of Manchester as visiting professor (1950).
  • GLU/9/17-23 28 Feb 1951- Jun 1951, arrangements for Radcliffe-Brown's lectures at Manchester in summer of 1951 on "Theories of social evolution from the time of Montesquieu" and "Ritual in Primitive Society".
  • GLU/9/28-34, 25 Mar 1952-29 Dec 1952, correspondence concerning the appointment of successor to Radcliffe-Brown at Rhodes University, South Africa.
  • GLU/9/34 copy letter 29 Dec 1952, Gluckman discusses his Frazer lecture,"The ceremonial of rebellion among the south-eastern Bantu.", outlining his views on rebellion as form of social cleavage, and how ceremonies transmute conflict into a "blessing on the unity and property of the society"; also discusses his work on law and anthropology, particularly relating to legal norms and practices of the Lozi, and more generally his views on legal anthropology, his view is that "certainty of law resides in the uncertainty of its basic concepts".
  • GLU/9/35, (n.d. c. Feb 1953) Radcliffe-Brown responds favourably to Gluckman's book on legal anthropology, criticises Malinowski's views on law, and stresses importance of empirical study "if we are to study law we must begin with events that take place in social life", and that legal rules and moral & religious norms are entwined; same letter also comments on Radcliffe-Brown's Structure and Function, which considers "not much a book but it does forumlate a point of view".
  • GLU/9/38, copy letter, 13 Oct 1953, Gluckman praises Radcliffe-Brown's "crushing reply" to Mary Douglas's article [not identified].
  • GLU/9/40 [1953], Radcliffe-Brown prises work of "Srinivas" on the Indian village community and recalls he considered joining the Ethnographical Survey of India early in career to study this; also expresses satisfaction that Meyer Fortes "has shown such an increase in stature." Thinks good idea if Gluckman moved from studies of law to "studies of comparative political sociology".
  • GLU/9/43, copy letter 2 Dec 1954, Gluckman discusses presentations by visiting academics at his Manchester seminar, noting that some do not appear to understand "total social system" in their interpretations, and feels they "end up by giving sterile...presentations" [letter is incomplete].
  • GLU/9/46, typescript of Gluckman's obituary of Radcliffe-Brown, published in Manchester Guardian, 25 Oct 1955.
  • GLU/9/49, 1 May 1956, letter from Darryl Forde to Evans-Pritchard and Gluckman concerning a proposed memorial tablet to Radcliffe- Brown.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alfred Radcliffe-Brown (1881-1955) held a number of senior academic posts including the chairs of anthropology at the universities of Cape Town from 1921-1925, Sydney from 1926- 1931, Chicago from 1931-1937, Oxford from 1937-1946, and Alexandria from 1947 to 1949. He played a major role in the development of anthropology as an academic discipline, and was an important early influence on Gluckman.