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CENTRAL AFRICAN HUNTER-GATHERER RESEARCH TRADITIONS - page 7 / 43

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anthropologist who had conducted ethnographic research with the Mbuti. Turnbull was impressed with Mbuti music and spent a month in the field. He was not supported at this time and took a job with filmmakers to help construct the boat used in the film “The African Queen.” He returned to the U.K., communicated with E.E. Evans-Pritchard about his interests in graduate school and decided to return to Oxford because its anthropology program was not as science-oriented as other U.K. universities. For his B.Litt. (Bachelor of Letters, similar to MA in the US) he surveyed the ethnographic literature of the Mbuti and Efe.  The review was critical of Father Paul Schebesta’s 1920s research with the Efe because Schebesta wanted to test Father Schmidt’s (1939) Kulturkreise (culture circle) ideas that Pygmies were the most primitive human circle, and he felt Schebesta’s fieldwork was superficial because he did not live in Mbuti camps and he did not provide in-depth descriptions or understanding of the Efe. Schebesta said Efe had chiefs, had only instrumental music and were dominated by villagers. Based upon his limited time in the field, he disagreed with all of these characterizations and returned to the Ituri twice in the 1950s to collect data for his PhD to refute them.  Turnbull was trained and influenced by Rodney Needham, Isaac Schapera and Evans-Pritchard, classic British social anthropologists. Given this background, Turnbull had to pay attention to social structure, but as reflected in his Indian studies and becoming a Buddhist monk later in his life, he was especially interested in music, religion and the inner lives of the people. His training in British social anthropology and a personal interest in religion contributed to his research focus on forager-farmer social relations, rituals that link foragers and farmers and how Mbuti viewed the forest and their village neighbours. The Forest People demonstrates his interest in and ability to convey the inner lives of the people and Wayward Servants reflects his interests in religion and social structure. He became a naturalized American citizen in the 1960s when he took a position at the American Museum of Natural History (Grinker 2000).

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