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Call Number ms38891
Title Papers of Ladislav Holy
Date 1960s-1990s
Description Research papers on field work mainly on kinship with the Berti and Watkami in the Sudan and the Toka in Zambia; copies of court testimonies in Zambia, notebooks and card indicies; papers by other anthropologists; research notes and surveys on Czech identity; correspondence; audio tapes; lectures and teaching notes; photographs, slides and contact sheets; outsize folders of kinship diagrams and maps.
Extent 7m
Creator Name Ladislav Holy (1933-1997)
Admin History Ladislav Holy was Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews when he died in April 1997 at the age of 64 years old. He was born in Prague in 1933, and he went on to read Anthropology and Archaeology at Charles University, Prague, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1961. He worked as Assistant Keeper at the Naprstek Museum, 1954-56, and then as a Research Officer at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in Prague, 1956-65. His later career took him on a trajectory from museology, folklore and ethnography to British-style Social Anthropology.

His connections with British Social Anthropology came through contacts made with the Prague school by a number of eminent Cambridge scholars, especially Prof. Meyer Fortes, for whom he had acted as a translator and interpreter on a trip to Czechoslovakia in the early 1960s. By 1965, he had become Head of the African Department at the Czech Academy where he had started to introduce more theoretically innovative and politically challenging ideas than might have been expected by the communist authorities. Ladislav managed to leave the country to take up a visiting fellowship in Cambridge in 1967, and this prolonged exposure to the then current ideas of the discipline was to set the tone and direction for much of his later work.

Ladislav conducted fieldwork first among the Berti of the Sudan during two lengthy research expeditions in 1961 and 1965, and subsequently returned on six occasions over the next 25 years. He then studied the Toka people intermittently from 1968 to 1972 during his time as Director of the Livingstone Museum in Zambia, a post he took up just prior to the Prague Spring uprising. Due to return to the Academy in Czechoslovakia after five years in Zambia, he accepted instead in 1973 on the advice of Meyer Fortes a post of Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the Queen's University of Belfast. In this way Ladislav avoided the prospect of returning to his native country and to the regime which he so despised. His actions provoked censure from the Czech authorities and he was made persona non grata in his homeland. In Belfast, he met up with his old friend and fellow Czech anthropologist Milan Stuchlik, and the pair formed a formidable intellectual partnership that laid the foundations for a body of theoretical work which emphasised social process and cultural interpretation in contradistinction to the prevailing orthodoxies of 1960s social anthropology. He moved to St Andrews in 1979 as a Reader in Social Anthropology to establish the discipline at the University, and was elevated to a Professorship in 1987.

In 1989, he returned to Czechoslovakia - with some misgivings - for the first time in over 20 years. The research he conducted there resulted in his last monograph, which was on Czech nationalism and cultural identity, published in 1996 and entitled "The Little Czech and the Great Czech Nation". In 1992, he was awarded the Rivers Memorial Medal by the Royal Anthropological Institute in recognition of his long and distinguished contribution to British Social Anthropology.

In 1956, Ladislav Holy married Alice Fucikova, a childhood friend from Prague and fellow anthropology student at Charles University, who died in 1990. Ladislav later met Kate Mortimer, with whom he spent the last six years of his life, and the couple married in 1996, a few months before his death.

Ladislav Holy's Books and Edited Volumes (in English):

Masks and Figures from Eastern and Southern Africa. London: Paul Hamlyn, 1967.

Ed. Social Stratification in Tribal Africa. Prague: Academia, 1968.

Neighbours and Kinsmen: A Study of the Berti People of Darfur. London: C. Hurst, 1974.

Ed. Emil Holub's Travels North of the Zambezi 1885-86. (Transl. by C. Johns). Manchester: Manchester University Press (for the Institute for African Studies, University of Zambia), 1975.

Ed. Knowledge and Behaviour. Queen's University Papers in Social Anthropology 1. Belfast: Queen's University Press, 1976.

Ed. Segmentary Lineage Systems Reconsidered. Queen's University Papers in Social Anthropology 4. Belfast: Queen's University Press, 1979.

Ed. (with M. Stuchlik) The Structure of Folk Models. ASA Monograph 20. London: Academic Press, 1981.

(With M. Stuchlik) Actions, Norms and Representations. Foundations of Anthropological Inquiry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

Strategies and Norms in a Changing Matrilineal Society: Descent, Succession and Inheritance among the Toka of Zambia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

Ed. Comparative Anthropology. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987.

Kinship, Honour and Solidarity: Cousin Marriage in the Middle East. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1989.

Religion and Custom in a Muslim Society: the Berti of Darfur. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

The Little Czech and the Great Czech Nation: National Identity and the post-Communist Social Transformation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Anthropological Perspectives on Kinship. London: Pluto Press, 1996.
Language English Arabic Czech

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