ASAO Home Page

Honorary Fellows

Douglas Oliver
Harry Maude
Cyril Belshaw
Ward Goodenough
Kenelm Burridge
Jane Goodale
James Watson
Maurice Godelier
Marshall Sahlins
Paula Brown Glick

Torben Monberg
Ann Chowning
Marilyn Strathern

Deceased Honorary Fellows

Gregory Bateson
Raymond Firth
Homer Barnett
William Davenport
Kenneth Emory
Margaret Mead
Leonard Mason
A.P. Elkin
Reo Fortune
William Lessa
Katherine Luomala
Ian Hogbin
Saul Riesenberg
Peter Lawrence
Laura Thompson
Rene Heyum
Annette Weiner
Robert Levy


Cyril Belshaw was born 3 December 1921, in Waddington, New Zealand. His father was Professor of Economics at Auckland University College (later, University of Auckland). Cyril himself was an undergraduate for two years at the University College (1940–42) before being appointed District Officer and Deputy Commissioner for the Western Pacific, Colonial Service, in the British Solomon Islands (1943–46). He obtained his M.A. extramurally, for a study on economic development in the British Solomon Islands (1945). In 1946 Cyril resigned from the Colonial Service and with his wife, Betty, whom he had met at university in Auckland, went to the London School of Economics to study for his doctorate under Raymond Firth. Becoming an Emelie Horniman Student of the Royal Anthropological Institute (l947–48), he spent much of his spare time as a member of the British Army Manpower Committee Working Party studying aspects of leadership, and as the Senior Scientific Officer with the Air Ministry in London. Also a part-time tutor in Western Pacific Colonial Studies, Cyril completed his doctorate (Social Economics of Culture Contact in Eastern Melanesia) in 1949, and, with Betty, went on to do fieldwork in what is now Papua New Guinea in the Moresby area as a Research Fellow with the newly founded Australian National University. He also served as a member of the ANU working party appointed by the Minister of Territories to review economic developments in New Guinea. After completing his time as Research Fellow, Cyril went off across the Pacific to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver to help Harry Hawthorn with the founding and development of the newly formed Department of Anthropology and Sociology. He was made Professor of Anthropology in 1961, became Acting Head of the department in 1967, and Head in the following year. He stood down in 1974.

Cyril still is, as he has always been, a man of tremendous physical and intellectual energy, bubbling with ideas which he gives freely to others. Some ideas he pursues to completion in a manuscript which may or may not be published—since he retired, he has written three booklength pieces and one slightly shorter document. This adds to a most impressive publications record of what are now standard works on Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and the Solomons, discussing economics, culture contact, cargo cults, and administration and development. Cyril was a Guggenheim Fellow for 1965–66, and was awarded two Canada Council Leave Fellowships (l972, 1978). He has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada since l969, an Honorary Life Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute since 1978, and an Honorary Life Member of the Pacific Science Association since 1981. He is a Life Member of the Royal Economic Society and the Polynesian Society, and maintains his memberships of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the British Commonwealth and the Society for Applied Anthropology. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Award for Anthropological Diplomacy in 1982.

Cyril has always mixed his purely scholarly work, his teaching in class, supervisions, research, and learned writing, with a plethora of community and academic administrative work. A few examples from a much longer list: Editor, Current Anthropology, 1974–85; President, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, 1978–83, Past President, 1983–88; President, Eleventh International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, 1978–83; President, International Congress of Americanists, 1978; President, Educational Foundation for Anthropology and the Public, 1981–84. And within these bodies he has chaired or been a member of a number of different standing or ad hoc committees at various times. He has given keynote addresses and invited lectures in Argentina, Brazil, China, Israel, Europe, and of course in the U.S. and Canada. He has traveled the world on behalf of Current Anthropology.

A workaholic certainly, the above lists nowhere near exhaust Cyril's interests and accomplishments. For Cyril is also a truly cultured man, fond of and knowledgeable about music, literature, and the arts, an enthusiastic playgoer, a gastronome who has written a guide to the many varied restaurants of Vancouver (an updated version is now in preparation). Cyril retired, Emeritus, December 31, 1986. The last six or seven years of his academic tenure were clouded by the trauma of the circumstances attending the tragic disappearance and death of Betty. Still, he carried on, as always doing rather more than was strictly required of him. Today he lives quietly in a genial neighborhood close to downtown Vancouver. He writes both for others and his own amusement, participates in internet activities (including ASAONET) and anthropologically related conversations, takes great pleasure in visiting his daughter and son and two granddaughters, and enjoys going out for a meal with his friends.

Kenelm Burridge, ASAO Honorary Fellow, Nanaimo, British Columbia (September 1997 Newsletter)