13 Nov 2012 5:30pm - 7:00pm Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Site


CRASSH lectures supported by the Thriplow Charitable Trust

Professor Marilyn Strathern



Professor Marilyn Strathern will give the final lecture in a series of five lectures on Understanding Society. The series will culminate in a panel discussion at Kings Place on Tuesday 27 November 2012. 



This final lecture in the series takes on the issue of what seems one of the least appealing aspects of ‘society’, as the term is used in common parlance, namely its vacuousness, and suggests what an anthropologist might find interesting in that. Does the Big Society render the concept even more (as in bigger) vacuous? And if it does, what might be some of the consequences? The lecture questions both what might be taken for granted in an appeal to society and what it then means to promote it. If indeed there is no such thing, do these questions become more interesting, or less so? It is a conundrum that is best approached from a wider stage than ministerial pronouncements.

The lectures are free and open to all, no registration required.

Full lecture series: 


About Marilyn Strathern

Marilyn Strathern DBE, Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology, Cambridge, and former Mistress of Girton College, has recently been made Life President of the Association of Social Anthropologists; she is an Honorary fellow of Trinity College. Her interests have been divided between Melanesian and British ethnography. She is probably most well known for The gender of the gift (1988), a critique of anthropological theories of society and gender relations applied to Melanesia, which she pairs with After nature (1992), a comment on the cultural revolution at home. Her most experimental work is an exercise on the comparative method (Partial connections 1991). The debates around legislation on human embryology and fertilisation stimulated an interest in reproductive technologies, leading to collaborative research that examined some of the issues in the context of kinship.  Projects over the last twenty years are reflected in publications on reproductive technologies, and intellectual and cultural property rights, while ‘critique of good practice’ has been the umbrella under which she has written about audit, accountability and interdisciplinarity. Some of these themes are brought together in Kinship, law and the unexpected (2005).  The concept of ‘society’ has woven its way both in – and, significantly, out and out of – these endeavours.

Image copyright A Houston 2008


Poster image from Flickr creative commons by HowardLake 

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