Professor Roy Ellen


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Roy Ellen

Trained in anthropology at the Universities of London (London School of Economics) and Leiden. Fieldwork in eastern Indonesia (among the Nuaulu people of Seram, on Sulawesi, Gorom, Seram Laut, Banda and Ambon-Lease: 1970 to the present) and Brunei (1991-4). Research interests include ethnobiology, the social impact of deforestation and inter-island trade. Current teaching is mainly in environmental anthropology, human cultural evolution and the history of anthropological theory.


Roy Frank Ellen

Personal details

Born: 30 January 1947, London

Married: (Nicola Jane Goward) 1978; 2 daughters

Home Address: Crockshard Farmhouse, Crockshard Hill, Wingham, Canterbury, Kent, CT3 1NY (tel. 0227-720464)

Office Address: Eliot College, The University, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NS (tel. 0227-66822 extn 3421)

Higher education

1968 B.Sc. (Hons.) Anthropology II(i), London School of Economics and Political Science

1969 University of Leiden, The Netherlands

1973 Ph.D. Social Anthropology, London School of Economics and political Science

Academic appointments

1972-3 Temporary Lecturer, London School of Economics and Political Science

1973-80 Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Kent at Canterbury;
1980-6 Senior Lecturer;
1986-8 Reader;
1988- Professor of Anthropology and Human Ecology

Visiting appointments

1981 Research School of Pacific Studies, Canberra; 1984 Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies; 1985 Andalas University, Padang; 1994 Indonesian Environmental History Programme, Leiden.

Recent research grants

ESRC Research Grant, 1991-4 : The ecology and ethnobiology of human-rainforest interaction in Brunei;
EU-funded programme: Avenir des peuples de forêts tropicales, 1994-9;
ESRC Research Grant, 1995-7: Deforestation and forest knowledge in south central Seram, eastern Indonesia.


1969-71, 1973, 1975, 1981, 1986, 1990 (26 months): Nuaulu people, south Seram, eastern Indonesia.

1976 (2 months): southeast Sulawesi

1981, 1986 (7 months): Gorom and Seram Laut archipelagoes, Moluccas, eastern Indonesia.

1991-4 (2 months): Brunei

Research interests

Ethnobiology; technical and symbolic classifications in their social context, with particular reference to ethnobiology.
Problems, theory and technical procedures in the ecological analysis of small-scale societies.
Indigenous knowledge of the rainforest in relation to deforestation.
Concepts of nature.
Social organisation of regional trading networks.


Books and edited works:

(1) 1978 Nuaulu settlement and ecology. The environmental relationsof an eastern Indonesian community Verhandelingen van het Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- enVolkenkunde No.83 Martinus Nijhoff The Hague

(2) 1979 Social and ecological systems (edited with P. H. Burnham) Association of Social Anthropologists Monograph No.18. London: Academic Press.

(3 1979 Classifications in their social context (edited with D. Reason) London: Academic Press

(4) 1982 Environment, subsistence and system: the ecology of small-scale social formations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

(5) 1984 Ethnographic research: a guide to general conduct (editor) Association of Social Anthropologists Research Methods Series No.1. London: Academic Press.

(6) 1988 Malinowski between two worlds: the Polish roots of an anthropological tradition (with E. Gellner, G. Kubica and J. Mucha) Cambridge : Cambridge University Press

(7) 1993 The cultural relations of classification: an analysis of Nuaulu animal categories from central Seram Cambridge : Cambridge University Press

(8) 1993 Nuaulu ethnozoology: a systematic inventory (CSAC Monographs 6) Canterbury: Centre for Computing and Social Anthropology and Centre for Southeast Asian Studies

(9) 1993 Understanding witchcraft and sorcery in Southeast Asia (edited with C. W. Watson) Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press

(10) 1996 Redefining nature: ecology, culture and domestication (ed. with K. Fukui) Oxford: Berg

Selected papers published since 1985

1985 Patterns of indigenous timber extraction from Moluccan rain forest fringes. Journal of Biogeography 12, 559-587.

1986 What Black Elk left unsaid: on the illusory images of Green primitivism. Anthropology Today 2 (6, December), 8-12.

1986 Ecology. The Social Science Encyclopaedia, Adam and Jessica Kuper (eds.) London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

1987 Environmental perturbation, inter-island trade and the re-location of production along the Banda arc; or, why central places remain central. Human ecology of health and survival in Asia and the South Pacific, Tsuguyoshi Suzuki and Ryutaro Ohtsuka (eds.). Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press.

1993 Rhetoric, practice and incentive in the face of the changing times: a case study in Nuaulu attitudes to conservation and deforestation. Environmentalism: the view from anthropology, Kay Milton (ed.) London: Routledge.

1993 Human impact on the environment of Seram. In Natural history of Seram, Maluku, Indonesia. (eds.) Edwards, I. D., A. A. Macdonald and J. Procter. Andover: Intercept.

1994 Modes of subsistence: hunting and gathering to agriculture and pastoralism. In Companion encyclopaedia of anthropology: humanity, culture anmd social life. (ed.) Ingold, T. London: Routledge.

1994 Urbs in rure: cultural transformations of the rainforest in modern Brunei (with J. H. Bernstein). Anthropology Today 10 (4), 16-9.

1994 Rates of change: weasel words and the indispensable in anthropological analysis. In When history accelerates: essays on rapid social change, complexity and creativity.
(ed.) C. M. Hann. London: Athlone.

For further reading:

Food from Indonesian Forests

Rhetoric, practice and incentive in the face of changing times


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