New scholarship established

The University of Otago’s social anthropology programme has received a $1.3million funding boost from a benefactor.

The bequest is from the estate of Ngaere Geddes, the wife of Prof Bill Geddes, a University of Otago alumni, anthropologist, and ethnographic film-maker.

The money will be used to establish the Professor W.R. Geddes Bequest, which will provide scholarships for postgraduate social anthropology scholars.

Head of the University of Otago social anthropology programme Greg Rawlings said the bequest was transformative and would allow anthropology scholars to advance knowledge in the field with rigour, commitment, and enthusiasm.

Prof Geddes graduated from the University of Otago with a BA and MA, majoring in philosophy and psychology.

He took his PhD at the University of London and was eventually appointed chair of the social anthropology department at the University of Sydney.

He met his future wife Ngaere, a primary school teacher, on a tour of China in 1956. Together, the couple did fieldwork throughout the Pacific and Southeast Asia.

He was a prolific film-maker, beginning with The Opium People, which had a commentary by David Attenborough.

Prof Geddes died in 1989, and Mrs Geddes died in 2020.

The first W.R. Geddes scholarships will be awarded in 2023.

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