Royal Anthropological Institute and Anthropologists’ Fund for Urgent Anthropological Research (AFUAR)

This unique scheme, privately funded by anthropologists (founding sponsor: Dr George Appell) has been running since 1995. It 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 research conducted within the programme can be expected to support the welfare and survival of endangered peoples.

The Fellowships are held at a host institution, and are awarded 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 Department, 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. Calls for new Fellowships are publicised through RAI website.


The British Museum Urgent Anthropology Fellowship Programme 2013-2020

The Fellowship is currently hosted at the British Museum. You can see information on the current call for applications here

The 2014-17 cycle has a specific focus on threatened Nile Valley communities in northern Sudan. The 20th century riverine communities of northern Sudan and Nubia have been the subject of relatively little anthropological field research, and are facing radical transformations, brought about by a variety of infrastructural developments, including dam construction, large-scale agricultural development, the arrival of mobile technologies and changing foodways. These are village communities based on subsistence agriculture and date palm cash-cropping; Arabic is widely spoken, as is Nubian.

The first British Museum Urgent Anthropology Fellowship was held by Dr Karin Willemse, whose topic was 'The Abri area of Northern Sudan' (2014) The current Fellowship is held by Dr Enrico Ille, whose topic is 'Date palm production and socio-economic changes along the Nile in northern Sudan (Abri, Dongola, Dar al-Manasir)' (2016)

The 2018-2020 cycle will have a special focus on the Artic.


Objectives of the Fellowships in Urgent Anthropology

The primary goal of the Fellowships is to make a contribution to anthropological knowledge. However, basic ethnographic research has proven to be of material aid and help to indigenous peoples whose cultures and languages are threatened or disappearing. Thus, grantees are encouraged, where appropriate, to:

a) report to the people concerned relevant records made in the course of the study of their culture and history, so as to help them make use of valued aspects of these in the construction of their futures;

b) foster respect, where this has been eroded, for their culture and language and their preservation, including the development of local interest in collecting oral histories and traditions and the incorporation of these in the educational system;

c) collect data on the traditional patterns of land use and rights and make them available for the people;

d) facilitate the study of local medical practices and their incorporation into the modern health delivery systems;

e) report violations of human rights to pertinent human rights organizations.

f) it is expected and required that scientific publication will result from the research.


Urgent Anthropology Fellows

The fund has supported 23 Fellows since its inception, hosted at Goldsmiths (University of London), Durham University and the University of Kent. For information about the fellows and their specific research projects please click here


New Directions for Urgent Anthropology

Goldsmiths (University of London), Durham University and the University of Kent have hosted the programme to 2010. In September 2010 the University of Kent hosted a seminar New Directions for Urgent Anthropological Research. The seminar was funded by a Conference Grant from the British Academy, the RAI and the School of Anthropology and Conservation at University of Kent. For details click here.


Contributors to the Fund

The Royal Anthropological Institute offers grateful thanks to the fund’s founder sponsor George Appell and the long list of contributors below who made the realisation of this ambitious and important scheme possible. We always welcome new contributions to continue to support vital urgent anthropological research. For information about donating to the fund, or leaving a legacy please click here

Contributors in alphabetical order

Nathan & Meredith Altshuler

G. N. Appell (Brandeis University)

Helen F. Appell (Pennsylvania)

L. W. R. Appell (Sabah Oral Literature Project)

Laura P. Appell-Warren (Firebird Foundation)

Louis J. Appell, III (California)

Appleby Foundation

Scott and Annie Appleby Charitable Trust

Jonathan C. M. Benthall (Royal Anthropological Institute)

Robert Blust (University of Hawaii)

Erika Bourguignon (Ohio State University)

Donald E. Brown (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Ann Pat Caplan (Institute of Commonwealth Studies)

Michael M. Cernea (World Bank)

Benjamin Colby (University of California)

Robert K. Dentan (State University of New York)

Amity A. Doolittle (Yale University)

Norman Dorsen (New York University Law School)

Richard Allen Drake (Michigan State University)

Brian Durrans (British Museum)

Charles Frantz (State University of New York at Buffalo)

Robert Gardner (Harvard University)

Rosemary Gianno (Keene State College)

Peter Goethals (Hawaii)

Joan Bamberger Goodheart (Wellesley College)

Felicitas D. Goodman (Denison University)

Stephen Gudeman (University of Minnesota)

Bess Hawes (Virginia)

Robert Hitchcock (University of Nebraska)

Steven G. Hoch (Pell Rudman)

W. W. Howells (Harvard University)

A. Thomas Kirsch (Cornell University)

Jane Lichtenstein, Trustee, Sutasoma Trust (England)

Robert A. Manners (Brandeis University)

Charity R. McNabb (Firebird Foundation)

Dr. and Mrs. J. Wallace McMeel (Maine)

Eugene Ogan (Hawaii)

Kazunori Oshima (University of Kyoto)

James L. Peacock III

Anton Ploeg (Nijmegen University)

Daniela Sieff (Real World Pictures)

Sutasoma Trust

Amanda P. A. Warren (Milton Academy)

Ethan R. A. Warren (Milton Academy)