Professor Roy Ellen
Professor of Anthropology & Human Ecology
Retired, Emeritus Professor
- - R.F.Ellen@kent.ac.uk
- - 01227 (82)3421
I was trained at the London School of Economics as a social anthropologist, though have long been committed to an anthropology that addresses the 'big issues' about what it is to be human. My fieldwork has, over a period of 40 years, focused mainly on the Nuaulu of Seram and other peoples of the Moluccan islands of eastern Indonesia. I have also worked in Sulawesi, Java, Brunei and in the UK.
Throughout my career I have 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. I have also worked on the ecological and social dynamics of inter-island trading systems.
My 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.back to top
Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository
A list of book and film reviews can be found here.back to top
My main current research and writing commitments arise from four recent and current grants:
- Leverhulme Trust, 2007-2010: The Ethnobotany of British Homegardens: diversity, knowledge and exchange (with Simon Platten)
- British Academy, 2007-8: The eolithic controversy as a problem in the history of science, and of archaeology in particular: an approach from cognitive anthropology
- British Academy (South East Asia Committee), 2009-2010: A comparative study of the sociocultural concomitants of cassava diversity in four eastern Indonesian populations in relation to environmental security
- British Academy, 2014-16: Demography, kinship and ritual reproduction: Nuaulu cultural resilience in the ‘New Indonesia’
In addition I continue to work on Nuaulu ethnobotany, ethnobioloical classification, cultural cognition and knowledge transmission.
External Research Awards
SSRC Studentship, 1968-71
Galton Foundation, 1969
London-Cornell Scheme, 1969
Central Research Fund of the University of London, 1969-71, 1973
Hayter Travel Award, 1973: fieldwork on Seram, academic visits to Universiti Nasional Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok
British Council Travel Grant (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst), 1973: academic visits to University of Leiden, Instituut voor den Tropen (Amsterdam), Frei-Universität, Berlin, Museum für Völkerkunde, Berlin, Frobenius-Institut, Frankfurt-am-Main, Universität Heidelberg
SSRC Research Grant, 1975-77: Nuaulu ethnobiology and ecology
British Academy Grant, 1977: subvention towards publication of ‘Nuaulu settlement and ecology’ : £1,000
British Academy Grant (British Institute in Southeast Asia), 1981: fieldwork in the Central Moluccas: £2,201
South East Asia Travel Grant, University of Kent at Canterbury, 1981: fieldwork in the Moluccas, archival research in Java
British Council, 1984: academic travel grant for archival research in the Netherlands
British Council, February-March 1985: academic travel grant to teach at Andalas University, Padang, West Sumatra
Nuffield Social Science Research Fellowship for research on 'Change and the social organization of regional trading networks in the Moluccas', 1985-86: £12,762
Academic visit by Professor John Clammer to the UK: £1,500
Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research: Towards First Canterbury Symposium on Southeast Asian Studies: £2,755
British Academy: Towards First Canterbury Symposium on Southeast Asian Studies: £800
Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research: travel grant in support of academic visit to University of Washington, St Louis: £350
British Academy: in support of academic visit to University of Washington, St Louis: £350
ESRC Research Grant, 1991-94: The ecology and ethnobiology of human-rainforest interaction in Brunei: £61,570; £7850
British Academy: Tropical rainforest: current issues, Universiti Brunei Darussalam: £650
As part of consortium for EU-funded programme: Avenir des peuples de forêts tropicales, 1994-2000: various grants totally approximately €1,828,960 = £1,143,100
ESRC Research Grant, 1995-1998 Deforestation and forest knowledge in south central Seram, eastern Indonesia: £50,650
European Science Foundation grant for UKC conference on 'Indigenous environmental knowledge and its transformations’, 1996
European Science Foundation: Workshop on a critical examination of the uses and abuses of indigenous environmental knowledge and its transformations: FF97,832
ESRC Grant, 2001-2004 Frequency and periodicity in Nuaulu ritual reproduction: £100,002
ESRC (with M. Fischer and others), 2002-5: Interactive Data Collection, Reproduction/Transmission of Environmental Knowledge: £158,000
British Academy: Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology: £650
Nuffield Foundation (with M. Alexiades), 2002-5: Environmental Knowledge, Perception and Social Interaction in an Amazonian Landscape: £100,000
Wenner-Gren Foundation: for Ninth International Congress of Ethnobiology, Canterbury: $14,548
Eden Project Ltd: for Ninth International Congress of Ethnobiology, Canterbury: £10,000
British Academy: for Ninth International Congress of Ethnobiology, Canterbury: £1560
International Plant Genetics Resources Institute: for Ninth International Congress of Ethnobiology, Canterbury: £2500
Royal Anthropological Institute: for Ninth International Congress of Ethnobiology, Canterbury: £2000
ESRC 2004-8:(with Gary Martin and Rachel Kaleta) Arar woodcarving: the socio-economic status, sustainable use and conservation of Tetraclinis articulata, a 'cultural keystone species' in southern Morocco (CASE studentship with the Eden Project): £21,000
ESRC, 2005-7: The ethnography, ethnobotany and dispersal of palm starch extraction: £37,276
British Academy: subvention for British Association Festival of Science, Dublin: £1600
Royal Anthropological Institute: subvention for British Association Festival of Science, Dublin: £750
British Council: to deliver lectures and research consultancy in Hyderabad, India: £1000
ESRC (with S. Klappa), 2006-7: Fallow Farming: Exploring Various Dimensions of LOng-term Land Use: £31,657
British Academy: International Congress of Ethnobiology - Biocultural Diversity and Ethnobiology,- Contemporary Issues and Challenges: £700
COST Action 31, ‘Stability and adaptation of classification systems in cross-cultural perspective’, 2006-9
(with D. Novellino and M. Alexiades) The Christensen Fund, 2007-9: Field Methods for Isolated Communities: $118,000
British Academy, 2007-8: The eolithic controversy as a problem in the history of science, and of archaeology in particular: an approach from cognitive anthropology
(with P. Locke) British Academy: American Anthropological Association Meeting: £400
Leverhulme Trust, 2007-2010: The Ethnobotany of British Homegardens: diversity, knowledge and exchange: £151,616
Royal Anthropological Institute (with D. Novellino): Enabling the Indigenous Voice: £17,200
(with S. Klappa) British Academy/Association of Commonwealth Universities: Archaeology and human Ecology of Sago Management, Production and Trade in the Kikori Region, Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea: £4983
British Academy (South East Asia Committee), 2009-2011: A comparative study of the sociocultural concomitants of cassava diversity in four eastern Indonesian populations in relation to environmental security: £4000
The Christensen Fund (with D. Novellino), 2009-12: Linking Networks on Pastoralism and Mobile Production Systems: $150,000
British Academy (with R. Puri): New Directions for Urgent Anthropological Research: £8,700
British Academy: Demography, kinship and ritual reproduction: Nuaulu cultural resilience in the ‘New Indonesia: £10,000
Graciela ALCÁNTARA-SALINAS: A comparative study of Cuicatec and Zapotec ornithology, with particular reference to contextual variation in a time of environmental and social change in Oaxaca, Mexico 2011.
Calum BLAIKIE: The commodification of materia medica and the practice of Tibetan medicine in Ladakh 2013.
Bernadette MONTANARI A critical analysis of the introduction of essential oil distillation in the High Atlas of Morocco, with reference to the role of gendered traditional knowledge 2012.
Yoshimi OSAWA: The perception and representation of umami: a study of the relationship between taste sensation, food types and cultural categories 2011.
Viola SCHREER: Longing for prosperity in Indonesian Borneo 2016.
Lisa FENTON: 'Bushcraft' and 'indigenous knowledge': transformations of a concept in the modern world 2016.back to top
I was a member of the University of Kent's REF 2014 Steering Group.
I currently edit the Berghahn series Studies in Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology on behalf of the Centre for Biocultural Diversity.
Nationally, I 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. I was a Council Member of the British Academy between 2009 and 2012, and President of the Royal Anthropological Institute between 2007-2011. I am currently a Vice President of the Royal Anthropological Institute, a member of its Council and Chair of the Manuscripts and Archives Committee. Internationally, I am a member of the Darrell Posey Awards Committee of the International Society of Ethnobiology, and Assistant Editor on the Wiley ‘International Encyclopedia of Anthropology’.back to top