Professor Caplan was one of the founding members of the Anthropology Department at Goldsmiths. She taught in the department from 1977-2002, as well as at other universities in the UK, USA, Canada and South Africa.
Her interests have included gender and social inequality; food, health and risk; reflexivity and anthropological ethics; social justice and human rights; personal narratives and biography. Fieldwork has been carried out on Mafia Island, Tanzania since 1965; Chennai (Madras) since 1974, and West Wales since 1992.
Professor Caplan has authored five monographs, edited five books and co-edited a further four, in addition to publishing some 80 journal articles and book chapters. In addition, she has constructed a number of websites about her research and made a film about Mafia Island.
- School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. B.A. Hons. African Studies (Swahili branch) 1963
- University of London. M.A. Social Anthropology (by dissertation) 1965
- Ph.D.in Social Anthropology, University of London. 1968
•Research on food poverty in UK
All of the data from the ESRC food projects have now been archived in the ESDS ESRC Qualidata Archive.
• Local Understandings of Global Processes: Food as a Vehicle of and Metaphor for Modernity on Mafia Island
• A website on and for Mafia Island, Tanzania
• Historical photo gallery of Mafia Island
• Writing a historical biography of a man from Mafia Island, Tanzania
• Archiving of textual, photographic and audio material from Mafia Island, Tanzania' for the British Library (Digital archive of music recordings made on Mafia Island in the 1960s - pdf) and the School of Oriental and African Studies
Research in Nepal, 1969
Publications and research outputs
Caplan, Pat. 2016. About Mikidadi: Individual Biography and National History in Tanzania. Hertfordshire, United Kingdom: Sean Kingston Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907774-48-5
Caplan, Pat. 2016. Mikidadi: individual biography and national history in Tanzania. Sean Kingston Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907774-48-5
Caplan, Pat. 2014. ‘Mikidadi wa Mafia: maisha ya mwanaharakati na familia yake nchini Tanzania’ (Mikidadi of Mafia: the life of an activist and his family in Tanzania). Dar es Salaam: Mkuki na Nyota Press. ISBN 978-9987082957
Caplan, Pat. 1997. African Voices, African Lives: Personal Narratives from a Swahili Village. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415137249
Caplan, Pat. 1985. Class and Gender in India: Women and their Organisations in a South Indian City. London: Tavistock Publications. ISBN 978-0422799706
Caplan, Pat. 1975. Choice and Constraint in a Swahili Community: Property. Hierarchy and Cognatic Descent on the East African Coast. London: Oxford University Press/International African Institute. ISBN 978-0197241950
Caplan, Pat. 1972. Priests and Cobblers: Social Change in a Hindu Village in Western Nepal. San Francisco: Chandler. ISBN 978-0810204546
Caplan, Pat and Topan, Farouk, eds. 2006. Swahili Modernities: Identity, Power and Development on the East African Coast. Africa World Press. ISBN 978-1592210466
Caplan, Pat and Topan, Farouk, eds. 2004. SWAHILI MODERNITIES : Culture, Politics, and Identity on the East Coast of Africa. Lawrenceville, NJ: AFRICA WORLD PRESS. ISBN 978-1592210466
Caplan, Pat, ed. 1997. Food, Health and Identity: Approaches from the Social Sciences. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415156806
Caplan, Pat, ed. 1997. Food, Health and Identity: Approaches from the Social Sciences. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415156806
Caplan, Pat and Bedani, Gino, eds. 1995. Understanding Disputes: The Politics of Argument (Explorations in Anthropology). Berg 3PL. ISBN 978-0854969258
Caplan, Pat and Bujra, Janet, eds. 1978. Women United, Women Divided: Cross cultural Perspectives on Female Solidarity. London: Tavistock and Blookington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0422764902
Caplan, Pat. 2015. ‘The Transcendent Subject? Biography as a medium for writing ‘life and times’’. In: N. Rapport; James Staples; Isak Niehaus and Katie Smith, eds. Anthropology and Biography. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Publications.
Caplan, Pat. 2015. ‘Two weddings in northern Mafia – changes in women’s lives since the 1960s’. In: Erin Stiles and Katherine Daly Thompson, eds. Gendered Lives in the Western Indian Ocean: Islam, Marriage, and Sexuality on the Swahili Coast. Ohio University Press. ISBN 978-0821421871
Caplan, Pat. 2013. ‘Death on the farm: badger culling in North Pembrokeshire’. In: Hilary Callan; Brian Street and Simon Underdown, eds. Introductory Readings in Anthropology. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books and RAI. ISBN 0857459694, 978-0857459695
Caplan, Pat. 2009. ‘Understanding modernity/ies on Mafia Island, Tanzania: the idea of a moral community’. In: Kjersti Larsen, ed. Knowledge, Renewal and Religion: repositioning and changing ideological and material circumstances among the Swahili on the East African Coast. Uppsala: Nordic Africa Institute. ISBN 978-91-7106-635-0
Caplan, Pat. 2009. ‘Is It Real Food?’: Who Benefits from Globalization in Tanzania and India? In: David Inglis and Debra Gimlin, eds. The Globalization of Food. Oxford and New York: Berg, pp. 273-290. ISBN 978-1845208202
Caplan, Pat. 2008. ‘Understanding difference, seeking transcendence: some personal reflections on a career in anthropology’. In: J. Kelso, ed. The Tao of Anthropology. University Press of Florida. ISBN 0813032628, 978-0813032627
Caplan, Pat. 2004. ‘Struggling to be modern: recent letters from Mafia Island’. In: Pat Caplan and F. Topan, eds. Swahili Modernities. Lawrenceville NJ: Africa World Press. ISBN 1592210465, 978-1592210466
Caplan, Pat. 2004. ‘Can Risk Management Be Universal? The Significance of Cultural and Social Differences’. In: R. Sakai, ed. Framework of Health Risk Management Science. Tokyo: URMPM Publishers.
Caplan, Pat. 2002. ‘Joke Schrijvers: an Appreciation'. In: E. Lammers and L. Nencel, eds. Making Waves: inspiring critical and feminist research: a tribute to Joke Schrijvers. Amsterdam, Aksant, pp. 32-35. ISBN 9052600562
Caplan, Pat. 2001. Civilization and barbarism: an anthropological approach. In: E.S. Shaffer, ed. Comparative Criticism: Volume 23. Cambridge University Press, pp. 155-171. ISBN 978-0521808071
Caplan, Pat. 2000. 'Eating British Beef with Confidence': perceptions of the risk of BSE in London and West Wales. In: Pat Caplan, ed. Risk Revisited. London and Sterling, Virginia: Pluto Press,. ISBN 0745314686, 9780745314686
Caplan, Pat. 2000. 'Monogamy, Polygyny or the single state? Changes in marriage patterns in a Tanzanian coastal village, 1965-94.'. In: C. Creighton and C.K. Omari, eds. Gender, Family and Work in Tanzania. Burlington USA, Singapore, Sydney: Ashgate, Aldershot,. ISBN 184014100X, 978-1840141009
Caplan, Pat. 2000. 'Food in middle-class households in Madras, 1974-94'. In: B.C.A. Walraven and K. Cwiertka, eds. Food in Asia: the Global and the Local. Curzon Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-2544-7
Caplan, Pat and Keane, A.. 1999. 'Health Professionals' Concepts of Healthy Eating'. In: B.M. Koehler; E. Feichtinger; E. Dowler and G. Winkler, eds. Public Health and Nutrition: The Challenge. Berlin: Edition Sigma, Rainer Bohn Verlag, pp. 228-244.
Caplan, Pat. 1999. 'Where have all the young girls gone? Gender and sex ratios on Mafia Island, Tanzania'. In: P. Forster and S. Maghimbi, eds. Agrarian Economy, State and Society in Contemporary Tanzania. Avebury Press: Aldershot.
Caplan, Pat; Keane, A.; Willetts, A. and Williams, J.. 1998. 'Concepts of Healthy Eating: Approaches from a social science perspective.'. In: A. Murcott, ed. The Nation's Diet: the Social Science of Food Choice. London and New York: Longman, pp. 168-182. ISBN 978-0582302853
Caplan, Pat. 1998. 'La vie politique en mutation d'un village cotier de la Tanzanie'. In: F. le Guennec-Coppens and David Parkin, eds. Autorite et Pouvoir chez les Swahili. Paris: Karthala; IPRA, Nairobi, pp. 77-97. ISBN 2865378691
Caplan, Pat. 1995. "Anthropology and the Study of Disputes" Introduction to. In: Pat Caplan, ed. Understanding Disputes: the Politics of Law. Oxford: Berg Publishers, pp. 1-10. ISBN 9780854969241
Caplan, Pat. 1995. "Law and custom: marital disputes on Mafia Island, Tanzania". In: Pat Caplan, ed. Understanding Disputes: the Politics of Law. Oxford: Berg Publishers, pp. 203-222. ISBN 9780854969241
Caplan, Pat. 1995. '"Children are our wealth and we want them": a difficult pregnancy on Mafia Island, Tanzania'. In: , ed. Women Wielding the Hoe: Lessons from Rural Africa for Feminist Theory and Development Practice. Oxford: Berg Press. ISBN 978-1859730737
Caplan, Pat. 1995. "'In my office we don't have closing hours: gendered household relations in a Swahili village in northern Mafia Island". In: Colin Creighton and Cuthbert Omari, eds. Gender, Family, and Household in Tanzania. Avebury: Aldershot, pp. 118-138. ISBN 978-1856286510
Caplan, Pat. 1993. "Learning Gender: field work in a Tanzanian coastal village, l965 85". In: D. Bell; Pat Caplan and W. Karim, eds. Gendered Fields. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 168-181.
Caplan, Pat. 1992. "Spirits and Sex: a Swahili informant and his diary". In: Judith Okely and Helen Callaway, eds. Anthropology and Autobiography. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 64-81. ISBN 978-0415051897
Caplan, Pat. 1985. "Celibacy as a solution? Mahatma Gandhi and Brahmacharya". In: Pat Caplan, ed. The Cultural Construction of Sexuality. London: Tavistock Publications, pp. 271-295. ISBN 978-0415040136
Caplan, Pat. 1983. "Women's Property, Islamic Law and Cognatic Descent". In: R. Hirschon, ed. Women and Property, Women as Property. London: Croom Helm, pp. 23-43.
Caplan, Pat. 1982. "Gender, Ideology and Modes of Production on the East African coast". In: J. de Vere Allen, ed. From Zinj to Zanzibar: History, Trade and Society on the Coast of East Africa. Berlin: Franz Steiner Verlag, pp. 29-43.
Caplan, Pat. 1978. "Women's organisations in Madras city, India". In: J. Bujra and Pat Caplan, eds. Women United, Women Divided: Cross cultural Perspectives on Female Solidarity. Tavistock: London and Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0422764902
Caplan, Pat. 1978. "Hierarchy or Stratification: Two Case Studies from Nepal and East Africa". In: J. Fisher, ed. Himalayan Anthropology. The Hague: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 53-65. ISBN 978-9027977007
Caplan, Pat. 2020. Struggling for food in a time of crisis: Responsibility and paradox. Anthropology Today, 36(3), pp. 8-10. ISSN 0268-540X
Caplan, Pat. 2016. Big Society or Broken Society?: Food Banks in the UK. Anthropology Today, 32(1), pp. 5-9. ISSN 0268-540X
Caplan, Pat. 2014. ‘An anthropologist among the film-makers: A cautionary tale’. Part 2. ‘The politics of circulation’. Anthropology Today, 30(1), pp. 15-19. ISSN 0268-540X
Caplan, Pat. 2013. Changing Swahili cultures and identities in a globalising world: an approach from anthropology. Swahili-Forum, 20, pp. 31-47. ISSN 1614-2373
Caplan, Pat. 2013. An anthropologist among the film-makers: A cautionary tale’. Part 1. ‘The politics of production’. Anthropology Today, 29(6), pp. 23-26. ISSN 0268-540X
Caplan, Pat. 2011. A ‘clash of civilizations’ on Mafia Island? The story of a dance festival. Anthropology Today, 27(2), pp. 18-21. ISSN 0268-540X
Caplan, Pat. 2010. Something for posterity or hostage to fortune? Archiving anthropological field material. Anthropology Today, 26(4), pp. 13-17. ISSN 0268-540X
Caplan, Pat. 2010. Death on the Farm: culling badgers in North Pembrokeshire. Anthropology Today, 26(2), pp. 14-18. ISSN 0268-540X
Caplan, Pat. 2010. ‘Child sacrifice in Uganda? The BBC, ‘witch doctors’ and anthropologists’. Anthropology Today, 26(2), pp. 4-7. ISSN 0268-540X
Caplan, Pat. 2009. ‘Food, environment and entitlement: local perceptions in three globalising settings: Case studies from Tanzania, South India and West Wales, UK’. Literature and Environment, (Korea), 8(1), pp. 207-226.
Caplan, Pat. 2008. Crossing the veg/non-veg divide: practising commensality among middle class women in Chennai. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 31(1), pp. 118-142. ISSN 0085-6401
Caplan, Pat. 2008. Between socialism and neo-liberalism: Mafia Island, Tanzania, 1965-2004. Review of African Political Economy, 34(114), pp. 679-694. ISSN 0305-6244
Caplan, Pat. 2007. ‘But the coast, of course, is quite different’: academic and local ideas about the East African littoral’. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 1(2), pp. 305-320. ISSN 1753-1055
Caplan, Pat. 2006. 'Is It Real Food?' Who Benefits from Globalisation in Tanzania and India? Sociological Research Online, 11(4),
Caplan, Pat. 2005. ‘In search of the exotic: a discussion of the BBC2 series ‘Tribe’’. Anthropology Today, 21(2), pp. 3-8. ISSN 0268-540X
Caplan, Pat. 2005. Towards a feminist ethics of anthropology. Lova: Landelijk Overleg Vrouwenstrudies in de Antropologie/ Tijdschrift voor Feministiche Antropologie (Journal of Women’s Studies in Anthropology / Feminist Anthropology), 26(2), pp. 3-23.
Caplan, Pat. 2004. ‘Can Risk Management Be Universal? The Significance of Cultural and Social Differences’. Journal of Medical Safety, 10, ISSN 1349-5232
Caplan, Pat. 1999. Anthropology, History and Personal Narratives: Reflections on Writing ‘African Voices, African Lives. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 9, pp. 283-290. ISSN 0080-4401
Caplan, Pat. 1996. Why do people eat what they do? Approaches to food and diet from a social science perspective. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 1(2), ISSN 1359-1045
Caplan, Pat. 1994. Distanciation or differentiation - what difference does it make? Critique of Anthropology, 14(2), pp. 99-115. ISSN 0308-275X
Caplan, Pat. 1989. The cross cultural validity of feminism - a case study from Tanzania. Garcia de Orta. Série de Antropobiologia, 6(1-2), ISSN 0870-0168
Caplan, Pat. 1988. Engendering knowledge: the politics of ethnography (Part 1). Anthropology Today, 4, pp. 8-12. ISSN 0268-540X
Caplan, Pat. 1988. Engendering Knowledge: The Politics of Ethnography, (Part 2). Anthropology Today, 5, pp. 14-17. ISSN 0268-540X
Caplan, Pat. 1985. Women's Voluntary Social Welfare Work in India: the Cultural Construction of Gender and Class. Bulletin of concerned Asian scholars, 17(1), pp. 20-31. ISSN 0007-4810
Caplan, Pat. 1981. Development Policies in Tanzania: Some Implications for Women. The Journal of Development Studies, 17(3), pp. 98-108. ISSN 0022-0388
Caplan, Pat. 1980. Joiners and non joiners: an Indian city suburb and its women's club. Sociological Bulletin, 29(2), pp. 207-221. ISSN 0038-0229
Caplan, Pat. 1979. Indian Women, Illusion and Reality: a Review of Some Recent Books. Women's studies international quarterly, 2(4), pp. 461-479. ISSN 0148-0685
Caplan, Pat. 1976. Boys' circumcision and girls' puberty rites among the Swahili of Mafia Island Tanzania. Africa, 46(1), pp. 21-33. ISSN 0001-9720
Conference or Workshop Item
Caplan, Pat. 2009. ''Changing Swahili cultures in a globalising world: An approach from anthropology’'. In: ‘Cultural Dynamics of Pre-colonial and Colonial Swahili society’. Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, Korea, Republic of 14-15th May 2009.
Caplan, Pat. 2006. ''But is it real food? Responses to globalisation in Tanzania and India'. In: SCOFF panel of the BSA Annual Conference on Order and Disorder. Harrogate, United Kingdom.
Caplan, Pat. 2003. ''Anthropology in the new world (dis)order' Keynote lecture at the Annual Conference of South African Anthropologists'. In: Annual Conference of South African Anthropologists. University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Caplan, Pat. 2002. ''Anthropology as a moral discipline: social justice, ethics and human rights''. In: Canadian Anthropology Society Conference, 'Social justice, culture and power'. University of Windsor, Canada.
Caplan, Pat. 2001. ''Risky Business: The Changing Landscapes of Anthropology''. In: Paul Stirling Memorial Lecture. University of Kent UKC, United Kingdom.
Caplan, Pat. 2020. Food Poverty nd Charity in the UK: Food Banks, the Food Industry and the State. Working Paper. Goldsmiths, University of London, London.
Further profile content
• British Association for the Advancement of Science: Committee member; 1994-8: President, Anthropology and Archaeology Section 1994-5.
• Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 1998-2000
• Chair of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth 1998-2002
• Board member and Trustee, Actionaid UK, 2007-2010. During this period served on evaluations of AA country programmes in Uganda, Nepal, India and Rwanda.
• Member, Advisory Board, Progress in Development Studies, Arnold Publishers
• Member, Advisory Board, Journal of the Humanities, Dodoma University Tanzania
• Member, Advisory Board, Anthropology in Action
• Member, Editorial Board, Swahili Forum (e-journal from University of Leipzig)
• Fellow, Royal Anthropological Institute, 1995-present, Trustee and Council member 2014-2016
• Advisor, Research Programme on food poverty in Switzerland
Food Research in UK
Research on Mafia Island, Tanzania
• Research on Mafia Island website
• British Library 2008. Pat Caplan collection (field recordings made during research on Mafia Island Tanzania on Swahili poetry and performance genres). British Library collection-number C1335.
• 2011: Caplan photo collection: Zanzibar and Kilwa, Tanzania
• 1978. Pat Caplan participated in the making of two BBC film anthropological series ‘Face Values’ and ‘Other People’s Lives’ which included material on her field site of Mafia Island. See 'Chole — Circumcision' and 'Chole — A woman's Place'
Research in Nepal, 1969
• Primary material on research in Nepal is held at the archives of the School of Oriental and African Studies
• Nepal Historical Photo Gallery. They are also available, together with those of Lionel Caplan, on the Himalayan website of the University of Virginia. See the Caplan Collection held by the Tibetan and Himalayan Library and the collections held by SHANTI, the scholarly collections at the University of Virginia
When Pat Caplan was appointed to Goldsmiths College in 1977, there was no anthropology department in existence and only one other lecturer, Brian Morris, teaching the subject. By the mid 1980s, there were full degrees at undergraduate, masters and doctoral level, new courses, and a department which is now recognised as one of the best in the UK, receiving top ratings in recent assessment exercises.
While most of Pat Caplan’s curriculum development and teaching has taken place at Goldsmiths, she has also taught at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study, the London School of Economics, Birkbeck College London, and the University of Cape Town and given lectures at the University of Bergen, University of Oslo, York University Toronto, University of Illinois Chicago, University of Kyoto, University of Tokyo. She has also and acted as external examiner for a wide range of universities both in the UK and abroad.
Although no longer teaching full-time, Pat Caplan continues to give occasional lectures both in Goldsmiths and elsewhere. She gave the Gold lecture in Anthropology in 2015 and the Mary Douglas Memorial Lecture in 2017