The RAI and the Anthropologists’ Fund for Urgent Anthropological Research jointly invite offers to host the RAI Fellowship in Urgent Anthropology from 2021-2024, in succession to the British Museum, whose highly successful tenure of the programme comes to an end in September 2020.

Deadline 1 July 2020.


This unique scheme, privately funded by anthropologists (founding sponsor: Dr George Appell) is designed to support ethnographic research on currently threatened indigenous peoples, cultures and languages. Its primary aim is to contribute to anthropological knowledge through detailed ethnography. It therefore differs from programmes in applied anthropology, although it may be complementary.

It is likely that two fellows will be appointed over the three years by open competition without restriction of nationality or residence. The Fellowship makes it possible for a budgeted project to be carried out over about 18 months: this period to include both field research and writing-up. Fellows are required to spend part of their fellowship period in the field and part attached to the host institution, where they are expected to contribute to its academic life. Fellowship applicants are required to submit a budget including all personal and research expenses, insurance, and costs of equipment necessary for the project. The Fellowship itself is non-stipendary, the attraction of the Fellowship being that agreed research expenses are covered.


Financial commitment: It is expected that in all likelihood two Fellowships will be awarded over the academic years 2021-2024. The total value of each Fellowship is expected to be in the region of £36,000. The host institution will be committed to covering one-third of this for each award, the remainder being met by a grant from AFUAR administered by the RAI.

Facilities and supervision: It is expected that the RAI and the host institution will co-provide appropriate academic mentoring to the Fellow while in the field, and access to facilities such as library services during writing-up.

Reporting and publication: Fellows will be required to meet a schedule for the submission of interim and final reports; to acknowledge the programme and host Institution in all publications resulting from the Fellowship; and to supply copies of all published material to the host institution, the RAI and AFUAR.


Offers to host the programme should be sent to the RAI at to arrive by 1 July 2020. Interested institutions are welcome to address informal enquiries to the RAI Director Offers should include as much information as the institution considers relevant on its size, staffing and postgraduate supervision, range of interests represented, and capacity for providing an appropriate research environment for Urgent Anthropology Fellows.

The RAI has found that the Urgent Anthropology programme has been a consistent scientific success. A list of previous incumbents may be found here: The comment below, by the University of Durham, a former holder of the award, may also be of interest.


The Department of Anthropology at the University of Durham has hosted the AFUAR funded Fellowship in Urgent Anthropology for two rounds from 2001-2006. The Fellowship was a great success. It enabled us to attract a number of scholars working in a great variety of geographical areas, but united through their common research interests in Urgent Anthropology. The advantages for Durham were:

  1. The ability to attract scholars both from the UK and from overseas who could invigorate the Department with their presence and their ideas. In particular, the value of having Fellows from overseas universities was a great boon, as we were also exposed to the issues confronting the teaching of anthropology abroad.
  2. The contribution of the Fellows to our various Research Groups, in particular our Public Culture Research Group, through giving papers, seminars, etc.
  3. Increasing the standing and profile of Durham as a centre of new and innovative anthropological research.
  4. The integration of the Fellows in our Teaching Programmes, especially in our third year Special Options in presenting new courses in areas of their own professional research interests, which were very much welcomed by the students. The fact that the Fellows are usually selected some 3-6 months before they take up the Fellowship enabled us to consult with the successful applicants and develop courses related to their research that could be integrated in our teaching schedule.

From the perspective of the Fellows the advantages were clearly that they obtained support to conduct funded fieldwork, that they found a congenial and calm environment to pursue their thinking and writing in greater depth free from the quotidian and administrative pressures that inevitably impinge on the life of full-time teaching staff, that they could use Durham as a base within the country to visit other Departments and present the results of their research,  and finally having a framework whereby they could build up a good publications profile to assist them in obtaining permanent university positions on the completion of their Fellowship. 

Durham obtained much value from these Fellowships and we consider that our contribution to the Fund was money which was well spent. Furthermore, by being linked to the RAI both in the administration and through the selection process, we could get together with colleagues from various UK departments who were appointed to the committee and benefit from further synergies in pursuing other areas of cooperation. This was an excellent opportunity for us and we would encourage Departments to put in a bid to host these Fellowships. There are very few such Fellowships available and it is to the credit of the AFUAR and the RAI in having established this scheme.