Professor Roy Ellen was trained at the London School of Economics as a social anthropologist, though has long been committed to an anthropology that addresses the 'big issues' about what it is to be human. Roy's fieldwork has, over a period of 50 years, focused mainly on the Nuaulu of Seram and other peoples of the Moluccan islands of eastern Indonesia. He has also worked in Sulawesi, Java, Brunei and in the UK.
Throughout his career, Professor Ellen has had a continuous professional interest in the anthropology of the environment and in ethnobiology (especially in relation to cultural cognition), and inaugurated the Kent teaching programmes in these subjects. Roy has also worked on the ecological and social dynamics of inter-island trading systems.
Professor Ellen's current interests are focused on the applications of cognitive anthropology to the history of science, the reproduction of Nuaulu ritual cycles, Nuaulu contemporary cultural resilience and understanding the management and significance of cultivar diversity amongst home gardeners and farmers in the British Isles and in the Moluccas.
Professor Ellen's main research and writing commitments arise from four recent and current grants:
In addition, Roy continues to work on other aspects of Moluccan ethnography and human ecology, ethnobiological classification, cultural cognition and knowledge transmission.
An index of Roy's book and film reviews can be found here.
Graduate Teaching and Administrative Experience:
Professor Ellen was a member of the University of Kent's REF 2014 Steering Group.
Roy currently edits the Berghahn series Studies in Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology on behalf of the Centre for Biocultural Diversity.
Nationally, Professor Ellen was a member of the Anthropology and Development Subpanel for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, and was Chair of the Anthropology and Geography section of the British Academy between 2012 and 2015. Roy was a Council Member of the British Academy between 2009 and 2012 and President of the Royal Anthropological Institute between 2007-2011.
Professor Ellen is currently a Vice President of the Royal Anthropological Institute, a member of its Council and the Manuscripts and Archives Committee.
Grants and Awards
|2022||Mary W. Klinger Book Award for The Nuaulu World of Plants: Ethnobotanical Cognition, Knowledge and Practice Among a People of Seram, eastern Indonesia|