Emeritus Professor in African Anthropology, Honorary Research Professor in Visual Anthropology
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, married and the father of two children, Richard Werbner is Professor Emeritus in African Anthropology, Honorary Research Professor in Visual Anthropology, and Director of the International Centre for Contemporary Cultural Research. Having come to Manchester as a Fulbright Scholar in 1959, his appointments at Manchester University have been continuous since 1961, when he became a Research Associate. He has also held visiting appointments at the Catholic University, Leuven, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, the University of California, Berkeley, the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., the University of Bergen, the University of California, San Diego, Macquarie University, Sydney, the Australian National University, Canberra, the University of Hradec Kralove, and the University of Botswana, Gaborone. Founder and Convener of the Satterthwaite Colloquium on Religion and Ritual from 1985, he was Chair of the Co-ordinating Council of Area Studies Associations from 1996-2001.
He was educated at Brandeis University (BA, 1959) and the University of Manchester (PhD, 1968). He carried out his first fieldwork among Winnebago of Nebraska in 1958, and began his long-term fieldwork in southern Africa in 1960, among Kalanga, first in Zimbabwe and later in Botswana, and among Tswapong in Botswana.
His most recent research, documented in his latest book, Reasonable Radicals and Citizenship in Botswana: The Public Anthropology of Kalanga Elites (2004), has extended across town and country in Botswana. His current project is a study of séances, counselling and subjectivities in Botswana's time of AIDS, of which two products are his films, Seance Reflections with Richard Werbner (2004), and Shade Seekers and The Mixer (2006) (see trailer). His current film is 'Encountering Eloyi' (see trailer).
His other books include Regional Cults (ed., 1977), Land Reform in the Making: Tradition, Public Policy and Ideology in Botswana (ed., 1981) Ritual Passage, Sacred Journey (1989), Postcolonial Identities in Africa (ed., 1996), Memory and the Postcolony (ed., 1998), Postcolonial Subjectivities in Africa (ed., 2002), and Tears of the Dead: The Social Biography of an African Family (1991) for which he won the Amaury Talbot Prize of the Royal Anthropological Institute.
Regional specialisation in South-Central Africa, fieldwork among the Kalanga (Zimbabwe and Botswana) and Tswapong (Botswana)
Topical interests include ritual, personal and historical narrative, politics, law, regional analysis.
(editor) 2002 Postcolonial Subjectivities in Africa. London: Zed Books.
2004 Reasonable Radicals and Citizenship in Botswana. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.