Paul Bohannan

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Paul Bohannan
Born5 March 1920
Died13 July 2007
ResidenceUnited States
United Kingdom
NationalityUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Arizona
Queen's College, Oxford
Known forEthnography of the Tiv
Spheres of exchange
Divorce in the United States
AwardsLegion of Merit (1944)
Herskovitz Prize (1969)
Scientific career
FieldsCultural anthropology
InstitutionsOxford University
Princeton University
Northwestern University
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Southern California

Paul James Bohannan (5 March 1920 – 13 July 2007) was an American anthropologist known for his research on the Tiv people of Nigeria, spheres of exchange and divorce in the United States.

Early life and education[edit]

Bohannan was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, to Hillory Bohannan and Hazel Truex Bohannan. During the dust bowl his family moved to Benson, Arizona. World War II interrupted his college education, and he served in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps from 1941 to 1945 reaching the rank of captain. In 1947 he graduated Phi Beta Kappa[2] with his bachelor's degree in German[3] from the University of Arizona. He attended Queen's College, Oxford, thereafter as a Rhodes scholar,[4] receiving a Bachelor of Science in 1949 and his doctor of philosophy degree in 1951, both in anthropology.[1]

Academic career[edit]

Bohannan remained in England and was a lecturer in social anthropology at Oxford University until 1956 when he returned to the States taking up an assistant professorship in anthropology at Princeton University. In 1959, Bohannan left Princeton for a full professorship at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. From 1975 to 1982 he taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 1982 he became dean of the social science and communications department at the University of Southern California (U.S.C.).[4] He retired from full-time teaching in 1987, but remained at U.S.C. as professor emeritus until his death.

From 1962 to 1964 Bohannan was a director on the Social Science Research Council. He was a director of American Ethnological Society from 1963 to 1966. Bohannan was president of the African Studies Association in 1964. In 1979-1980, he was president of the American Anthropological Association.

Personal life[edit]

Bohannan married Laura Marie Smith, an anthropologist with whom he collaborated on Tiv Economy, on 15 May 1943. They had one son, Denis, and were divorced in 1975. He remained married to his second wife, Adelyse D'Arcy, from 1981 until his death.[1] Bohannan died on 13 July 2007, in Visalia, California.[1] He was a connoisseur of Scotch whisky and a ballet enthusiast.[1]


Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Justice and Judgment among the Tiv. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1957. OCLC 67530323.
  • Social Anthropology. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 1963. OCLC 230074.
  • Africa and Africans. Garden City, NY: Natural History Press. 1964. OCLC 413202. (Fourth Edition [with Philip Curtin] published Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 1995)
  • With Bohannan, Laura (1968). Tiv Economy. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. OCLC 7394758.
  • With Bernard, Jessie (1970). Divorce and After. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. OCLC 87758.
  • We, the Alien: An introduction to cultural anthropology. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press. 1991. ISBN 0-88133-637-8.
  • How Culture Works. New York: Free Press. 1995. ISBN 0-02-904505-3.
  • With van der Elst, Dirk (1998). Asking and Listening: Ethnography as Personal Adaptation. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press. ISBN 978-0-88133-987-1.


  1. ^ a b c d e Thomas H. Maugh II (2 August 2007). "Obituary: Paul Bohannan, 87; USC anthropologist researched Nigerian culture and American divorce". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
  2. ^ Staff (1947) "Phi Beta Kappa to Accept 16" Tucson Daily Citizen 4 April 1947, p. 3, col. 6
  3. ^ a b Staff (1946) "3 Chosen for Rhodes Honor" Tucson Daily Citizen 13 December 1946, p. 18, col. 3
  4. ^ a b Johnson, Pamela J. (2007) "Pioneering Anthropologist was Authority on the Tiv Tribe" USC College News, July 2007