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Trinity gets on board to fund Amazonian lectureship

A donation from Trinity’s William Wyse Fund will enable the establishment in 2020 of a new University lectureship in the Anthropology of Amazonia, which has been endowed by Jessica Sainsbury, philanthropist and alumna of Jesus College.

These gifts will allow Cambridge’s Department of Social Anthropology to initiate new research and teaching about the peoples of Amazonia, building on the legacy of renowned academic Stephen Hugh-Jones, who has devoted a lifetime’s scholarship to building understanding of the indigenous peoples of north-west Amazonia.

Head of Department, William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology, James Laidlaw, said:

We are enormously grateful to our alumna Jessica for this hugely generous gift and to Trinity’s Wyse Fund for its fleet footwork in enabling us to advertise this endowed lectureship so that it may be filled from this September.

The new Jessica Sainsbury Lectureship in the Anthropology of Amazonia will allow Cambridge Social Anthropology once again to give the full weight this region deserves in our debates on human social and cultural diversity, and to make vital research contributions to dialogues around indigenous environmental stewardship and human rights in the region.

Crucially, it will allow us to provide world-class teaching on this pivotal region and to welcome doctoral students focused on Amazonia. We hope it will be the kernel of much new research and teaching on the region.

Trinity Fellow and Director of Studies in Social Anthropology, Professor Joel Robbins, welcomed the creative collaboration between Jessica Sainsbury, the Department, CUDAR, and Trinity. He said:

I am delighted that the William Wyse Fund, which Trinity administers, has been swift to assist in making this important lectureship tenable in 2020. Wyse read Classics at Trinity and went on to be elected a Fellow before becoming a Professor of Greek at University College London.

Through his friendship with the Victorian forerunner of modern anthropology, Sir James George Frazer, also a Trinity Fellow, Wyse bequeathed a substantial sum ‘for the promotion of study and research in the Science of Social Anthropology’. I am sure Wyse would think this new University lectureship focused on Amazonia a very good use of his financial legacy.

The William Wyse Fund has endowed a Professorship in the Department, a post held by distinguished academics including Meyer Fortes, Jack Goody, Ernest Gellner, Marilyn Strathern, and Henrietta Moore, and offers bursaries for postgraduate students and grants for fieldwork.

Jessica Sainsbury said:

I was incredibly fortunate to be an anthropology undergraduate at Cambridge and study with exceptional scholars like Stephen Hugh-Jones. I’m delighted to give back to my department by supporting a new lectureship. I hope the new future postholder will inspire a new generation of students and collaborate on much-needed research about Amazonia, a region of crucial importance to our planet.

The successful candidate for the Jessica Sainsbury University Lectureship in the Anthropology of Amazonia will be in post for the start of the next academic year. In addition to a record of fieldwork, scholarship and publications in the region, the Department will be looking for a candidate who shows enthusiasm for teaching, research and engagement in current anthropological debates, including about Amazonia.

You can find out more details and how to apply for the Jessica Sainsbury University Lectureship.

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