Skinner, Elliott P. 1924-2007 (Elliot Skinner, Elliott Percival Skinner)

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Skinner, Elliott P. 1924-2007 (Elliot Skinner, Elliott Percival Skinner)


See index for CA sketch: Born June 20, 1924, in Port of Spain, Trinidad; died of heart failure, April 1, 2007, in Washington, DC. Anthropologist, educator, diplomat, and author. Skinner was a former anthropology professor at Columbia University, as well as a former U.S. ambassador to what is now Burkina Faso. After moving from his home in Trinidad to the United States, he became an American citizen in 1943 and fought for his adopted country during World War II. After the war, he earned an A.B. from New York University in 1951 and his A.M. and Ph.D. from Columbia in 1952 and 1955, respectively. Skinner spent the next two years in West Africa studying the native culture and learning to speak Mossi. Returning to America, he joined the Columbia University faculty, beginning as visiting assistant professor of anthropology in 1957 and becoming Franz-Boas Professor of Anthropology in 1969. His teaching was interrupted in 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson selected him to be ambassador to Upper Volta, which is now Burkina Faso. Skinner stayed there for the next three years, then returned to Columbia University. Here he chaired the anthropology department from 1972 to 1975, the first African American to hold the post, and retired as professor emeritus in 1994. Skinner edited and contributed to several scholarly texts, and he was the author of such works as The Mossi of the Upper Volta: An Analysis of the Political Development of a Sudanese People (1964), African Urban Life: The Transformation of Ouagadougou (1974), The Mossi of Burkina Faso: Chiefs, Politicians, and Soldiers (1989), and AfricanAmericans and U.S. Policy toward Africa, 1850-1924: In Defense of Black Nationality (1992). For his contributions, Skinner was named a Commandeur de l'Ordre Nationale Voltaique in 1968.



New York Times, May 1, 2007, p. C14.

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Skinner, Elliott P. 1924-2007 (Elliot Skinner, Elliott Percival Skinner)

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