The Innocent Anthropologist by Nigel Barley

What I am currently reading…

Vulpes Libris

The Innocent Anthropologist is an entertaining and amusing tale about Nigel Barley’s first experience of fieldwork when he goes out to West Africa to live with the Dowayo – a little-understood pagan tribe in the mountains of Northern Cameroon. The Dowayo offered various advantages to the enthusiastic young anthropologist – they were remote, had an exciting wealth of skull ceremonies to be chronicled and studied and all his other choices were either ravaged by war or so bound up in time-consuming bureucracy to arrange that it looked like his field trip would never happen.

This is an entertaining, absorbing but easy to read book about an interesting subject-matter. My battered old copy boasts a similarity to Gerald Durrell – and this is true. It is a low-key episodic read, but with a great wry eye for human nature and behaviour at its heart. The opening introduction to the Dowayos reminded…

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