02/03/2015
lisa monaghan

Doss (2000). Evans-Pritchard and Segmentary Structures Amongst the Nuer. A Reappraisal.

Edward E. Evans-Pritchard, — E-P as he was affectionately known — was one of the most renowned and influential anthropologists of his time . Social anthropology was his passion and he remained truly committed to the advancement of social anthropology. E-P is, as one of his Oxford colleagues commented, “the one figure with whom more than anything else, all that is creative in Oxford Social Anthropology had come to be identified” is opinion is reaffirmed in the remark of another scholar that “it is bound to be said more than once that his death marked the end of an epoch in Social Anthropology” . Beidelman writes that E-P made important contributions in varied fields ranging from the anthropology of politics, kinship, and history, to economics, religion and folklore . Among the many themes with which he is associated, the ‘segmentary’ interpretation of Nuer society takes a place of honor. I quote: 'problems on which he left a really profound mark are those of the lack of centralized order among the Nuer, and those of the lack of reason among the Azande”

The objective of this paper is to assess the general contribution of E-P’s analysis of segmentary structures among the Nuer. The paper consists of three parts. The first provides a very brief life-sketch of E-P. The second focuses on E-P’s analysis of segmentary structure among the Nuer. The final section attempts at a critical appraisal of E-P in the light of the preceding discussion.

Category: Anthropology and History

Sub-category: Socio-Cultural Groups and Practices