Professor Pat Caplan MA PhD

Position held:
Emeritus Professor of Anthropology

+44 (0)20 7919 7800

p.caplan (

Department of Anthropology
Goldsmiths, University of London
New Cross
SE14 6NW

My interests have included gender and social inequality; food, health and risk; reflexivity and anthropological ethics; social justice and human rights; personal narratives and biography, and I have carried out fieldwork on Mafia Island, Tanzania since 1965, Chennai (Madras) since 1974, and West Wales since 1992.

Keynote lectures

  • 2009. 'Changing Swahili cultures in a globalising world: An approach from anthropology’ Keynote lecture for conference ‘Cultural Dynamics of Pre-colonial and Colonial Swahili society’ Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, Korea, May 14-15th 2009
  • 2006. 'But is it real food? Responses to globalisation in Tanzania and India. Keynote for the SCOFF panel of the BSA Annual Conference on Order and Disorder, Harrogate, April.
  • 2005. 'Towards a feminist ethics of anthropology' Keynote lecture for LOVA (Gender and Anthropology) conference 10th June 2005, Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands
  • 2003. 'Anthropology in the new world (dis)order' Keynote lecture at the Annual Conference of South African Anthropologists, University of Cape Town, South Africa, 24th Aug. 2003. (pdf of lecture)
  • 2002. 'Anthropology as a moral discipline: social justice, ethics and human rights' Keynote lecture at the Canadian Anthropology Society Conference, 'Social justice, culture and power' University of Windsor, Canada. (pdf of lecture)
  • 2001. Paul Stirling Memorial Lecture, University of Kent. Feb. 14th. 'Risky Business: Changing Landscapes of Anthropology'

Research interests

Recent Research Projects

Interview for the 'Anthropological Ancestors' Archive

I was one of the founding members of the Anthropology Department at Goldsmiths. I was recently interviewed by Alan Macfarlane for the Web archive on anthropologists. In the clip I talk about the founding of the Department and its beginnings in the 1970s and 1980s.
[ Listen to the interview (requires QuickTime) ]

Current projects

Writing a historical biography of a man from Mafia Island, Tanzania

Selected publications

the ethics of anthropology swahili modernities
risk revisited african voices, african lives
Gender Fields

food, health and identity
Priests and Cobblers
Women united, Women divided

Choice Constraint in a Swahili Community

Class and Gender in India

The Cultural Constuction of Sexuality

Les Swahili entre Afrique et Arabie

Early books were on social inequality (including gender, caste, and class), kinship, and sexuality, and were based on fieldwork on Mafia Island Tanzania (1965-7, 1976, 1984, 1994, 2002, 2004), in the Far Western Hills of Nepal (1969), and in Madras (later Chennai) city (1974-5, 1981-2, 1987, 1991, 1996, 1998).


Selected Publications


Publications about Pat Caplan


    • 2004. L. Back. ‘Pat Caplan’ in V. Amit (ed.) Biographical Dictionary of Social And Cultural Anthropology London and New York: Routledge



Content last modified: 06 Nov 2014

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