Paul Bohannan

Paul Bohannan
Born 5 March 1920
Lincoln, Nebraska
Died 13 July 2007
Visalia, California[1]
Residence United States
United Kingdom
Nationality United States
Fields Cultural anthropology
Institutions Oxford University
Princeton University
Northwestern University
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Southern California
Alma mater University of Arizona
Queen's College, Oxford
Known for Ethnography of the Tiv
Spheres of exchange
Divorce in the United States
Notable awards Legion of Merit (1944)
Herskovitz Prize (1969)

Paul James Bohannan (5 March 1920 13 July 2007) was an American anthropologist known for his research on the Tiv people of Nigeria, spheres of exchange and divorce in the United States.

Early life and education

Bohannan was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, to Hillory Bohannan and Hazel Truex Bohannan. During the dust bowl his family moved to Benson, Arizona. World War II interrupted his college education, and he served in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps from 1941 to 1945 reaching the rank of captain. In 1947 he graduated Phi Beta Kappa[2] with his bachelor's degree in German[3] from the University of Arizona. He attended Queen's College, Oxford, thereafter as a Rhodes scholar,[4] receiving a Bachelor of Science in 1949 and his doctor of philosophy degree in 1951, both in anthropology.[1]

Academic career

Bohannan remained in England and was a lecturer in social anthropology at Oxford University until 1956 when he returned to the States taking up an assistant professorship in anthropology at Princeton University. In 1959, Bohannan left Princeton for a full professorship at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. From 1975 to 1982 he taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 1982 he became dean of the social science and communications department at the University of Southern California (U.S.C.).[4] He retired from full-time teaching in 1987, but remained at U.S.C. as professor emeritus until his death.

From 1962 to 1964 Bohannan was a director on the Social Science Research Council. He was a director of American Ethnological Society from 1963 to 1966. Bohannan was president of the African Studies Association in 1964. In 1979-1980, he was president of the American Anthropological Association.

Personal life

Bohannan married Laura Marie Smith, an anthropologist with whom he collaborated on Tiv Economy, on 15 May 1943. They had one son, Denis, and were divorced in 1975. He remained married to his second wife, Adelyse D'Arcy, from 1981 until his death.[1] Bohannan died on 13 July 2007, in Visalia, California.[1] He was a connoisseur of Scotch whisky and a ballet enthusiast.[1]


Selected bibliography


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Thomas H. Maugh II (2 August 2007). "Obituary: Paul Bohannan, 87; USC anthropologist researched Nigerian culture and American divorce". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
  2. Staff (1947) "Phi Beta Kappa to Accept 16" Tucson Daily Citizen 4 April 1947, p. 3, col. 6
  3. 1 2 Staff (1946) "3 Chosen for Rhodes Honor" Tucson Daily Citizen 13 December 1946, p. 18, col. 3
  4. 1 2 Johnson, Pamela J. (2007) "Pioneering Anthropologist was Authority on the Tiv Tribe" USC College News, July 2007
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