One of antropologi.info’s readers alerted me to the death of anthropologist Olivia Harris. She died suddenly of cancer aged 60 on the morning of 9th April.
Harris is the co-founder of the Anthropology Department at Goldsmiths College (also University of London) and served as vice-president of the Royal Anthropological Society. In 2005, she became chair of the London School of Economics’ anthropology department. Highland Bolivia was her main research area. She published among other things about Inca civilisation and the impact of the Spanish invasion, changing notions of citizenship and the growth of indigenous movements.
One of Olivia Harris’ phd-students (T’anta Wawa) has written two nice blog posts about her.
In Olivia Harris 1948 – 2009 she writes that:
Olivia’s influence in British anthropology and Latin American studies has been immense, but her contribution to thinking about Bolivia is perhaps even more significant.
I’ve also been reluctant to put it up here because frankly, that would mean admitting that she is dead, and that has been difficult. It’s illogical that someone so lively, warm and important should be suddenly gone. But she is.
Then, she translated a text by Olivia Harris’ friend and colleague Xavier Albó that was originally published in La Razon:
Olivia belonged to a well-connected British family, associated with the upper levels of the Anglican church and even linked to the Crown. But she immersed herself fully over many years in a completely different world, in the community of Muruq’u Marka, a day’s travel away from the paved road in the south of the Mining District of Catavi (…).
The comunity members thought highly of her because she shared all their lives with them: worked in the fields, herded llamas, danced in fiestas, ate and slept whatever and wherever. They admired her audacity to go on foot anywhere, to cross rivers in rainy season. She ran around all those stretches of land mostly on foot, sometimes even on a large motorbike which a teacher lent her. Over six months she accompanied the llama caravans to the Mizque valleys. Jaime Bartolli, at that time of Uncia parish, reminds me of a detail which is her all over: at the most unexpected hour and day, she appeared around there with her poncho – and her violin!