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Reynolds, Barrie 1932–

Reynolds, Barrie 1932–

(Barrie Gordon Robert Reynolds)

PERSONAL: Born July 8, 1932, in London, England; son of Robert and Emma Amelia (Bettridge) Reynolds; married Ena Margaret Foster (a teacher), December 28, 1953; children: Julian Robert, Jill. Education: Fitzwilliam House, Cambridge, B.A. (with honors), 1954, M.A., 1958, M.Sc., 1962; Oxford University, D.Phil., 1968.

ADDRESSES: Home and office—Prospect Cottage, 40-44 Hume Ave., Wentworth Falls, New South Wales 2782, Australia. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Rhodes-Livingstone Museum (now Livingston Museum), Livingstone, Zambia, keeper of ethnography, 1955–64, director, 1964–66; Centennial Museum, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, chief curator, 1968–69; National Museums of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, chief ethnologist, 1969–75; James Cook University of North Queensland, Townsville, Queensland, Australia, Foundation Professor of Material Culture, 1975–97; Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, adjunct professor of museums and collections, 1998–. International Committee for Museums of Ethnography, past chair; Council of Australian University Museums and Collections, president, 1992–95.

MEMBER: Museums Association of Australia (president, 1979–81), Royal Anthropological Society (fellow), Museums Association (England; fellow, 1967–).

AWARDS, HONORS: Diploma, Museums Association.


(Editor) The Fishing Devices of Central and Southern Africa, 1958.

Magic, Divination, and Witchcraft among the Barotse of Northern Rhodesia, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1963.

(Editor) The Material Culture of the Ambo of Northern Rhodesia, 1964.

Somalia Museum Development, UNESCO, 1966.

The Material Culture of the Peoples of the Gwembe Valley, Praeger Publishers (New York, NY), 1968.

Material Culture: A System of Communication, South African Museum (Cape Town, South Africa), 1984.

(Editor, with Margaret A. Stott) Material Anthropology: Contemporary Approaches to Material Culture, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 1987.

(Coauthor) Cinderella Collections: University Museums and Collections in Australia, 1996.

(Coauthor) Transforming Cinderella Collections, the Management and Conservation of Australian University Museums, Collections & Herbaria, 1998.

Shorter works include The African: His Position in a Changing Society, Rhodes-Livingstone Museum (Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia), 1963. Contributor to books, including World Ceramics, edited by Robert J. Charleston, Hamlyn, 1968. Contributor to journals.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A biography of Walter Edmund Roth.

SIDELIGHTS: Barrie Reynolds is an anthropologist whose writings document the field research he has conducted. In Magic, Divination, and Witchcraft among the Barotse of Northern Rhodesia, Reynolds gives an account of a year-long study of witchcraft practices among a tribal people. The Material Culture of the Peoples of the Gwembe Valley is based on six months of fieldwork among the Bantu-speaking peoples who live near Victoria Falls in Zambia.

Magic, Divination, and Witchcraft among the Barotse of Northern Rhodesia "is unusually rich in firsthand data and striking insights," according to Joseph Bram in the Library Journal. Reynolds's study is based on a government investigation of witchcraft practices among the Barotse people, whose activities were causing the authorities concern. Reynolds was called in to organize and analyze the data gathered. E.H. Winter in American Anthropologist observed that the book contains "a great deal of interesting information," while C.M. Turnbull in Natural History noted "the wonderful miscellany that is presented with clarity and moments of humor."

In The Material Culture of the Peoples of the Gwembe Valley Reynolds outlines a typical day among the tribal peoples who live in the Gwembe Valley of south central Africa. He describes how their villages are designed, how the houses are built and furnished, and the various crafts and other manufactured items typically found. Reynolds's account of the Gwembe people covers the period before 1958, at which time the Gwembe Valley was flooded during a massive dam project and the native peoples in the area underwent a resettlement to new homes. Because the resettlement inevitably changed their ways of life, Reynolds's record of their traditions captures a part of history now lost forever. A reviewer for Choice found the book to be "well written and profusely illustrated" and "of considerable value to both students and professionals concerned with Africa or with primitive technology generally." Writing in American Anthropologist, Elizabeth Colson called The Material Culture of the Peoples of the Gwembe Valley "one of the best accounts we have of the material culture of any African people."

Reynolds told CA: "My early writing in south-central Africa was the outcome of my work as an anthropology curator and initially focused on the material culture and technology of the Bush and Bantu-speaking peoples of the region. Realizing that these facets of cultures cannot be viewed in isolation, my horizons soon expanded to include the full range of cultural activities in order to place them in their proper perspective. In the late 1960s, my work took me to Canada and then, in 1975, to Australia, and the focus of my writing shifted to the Beothuk of Newfoundland and the rainforest Aborigines of tropical Queensland. In Australia, my interests broadened further to include Western, Pacific, and Asian cultural heritage.

"From these varied experiences, I have been drawn to the need to develop a theory of material culture, one that is not focused just on one society but is of far broader relevance. I am interested in what has caused our material cultures to evolve to their present forms and whether the underlying principles governing this evolution might help us project future lines of development. In 1968 I coedited a book on material anthropology and plan by 2007 to produce a definitive volume of theory on material culture. This will hopefully be of benefit both to anthropology and related disciplines, and also to museums, where exhibitions are usually narrowly focused on one culture and sadly fail to explore basic universal principles.

"Since my career has been based in museums and universities, where I have taught museology for many years, I have also written extensively on museums and particularly on the management of artifact collections. Most of this writing has been in journals in different countries but, in the 1990s, culminated in my jointly authoring two substantial reports, funded by the Australian government, on the plight of Australian university museums.

"I am currently completing a definitive biography of the anthropologist and curator Walter Edmund Roth, who achieved international distinction during the early years of anthropology for his work on Australian aboriginal and Guyanan Indian cultures."



American Anthropologist, October, 1964, E.H. Winter, review of Magic, Divination, and Witchcraft among the Barotse of Northern Rhodesia; December, 1968, Elizabeth Colson, review of The Material Culture of the Peoples of the Gwembe Valley.

Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, May, 1989, David E. Young, review of Material Anthropology: Contemporary Approaches to Material Culture, p. 357.

Choice, February, 1969, review of The Material Culture of the Peoples of the Gwembe Valley, p. 1645; April, 1988, review of Material Anthropology, p. 1283.

Library Journal, October 1, 1963, Joseph Bram, review of Magic, Divination, and Witchcraft among the Barotse of Northern Rhodesia.

Natural History, May, 1964, C.M. Turnbull, review of Magic, Divination, and Witchcraft among the Barotse of Northern Rhodesia.

Times Literary Supplement, September 27, 1963, p. 754.

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