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Philip C. Salzman

Outstanding Contributor to the Study of Nomadic Pastoral Societies, Past and Present Recipient of the IUAES Commission on Nomadic Peoples Lifetime Achievement Award

by Elliot Fratkin

Philip C. Salzman is a well-known anthropologist whose work has been foundational to the study of nomadic and pastoralists peoples. Primarily a political anthropologist, Salzman has focused particularly on social institutions among pastoralists including kinship and tribal organization and how these institutions adapt over time. He has carried out long term field research among pastoralists of Baluchistan (Iran), Rajastan (India), and Sardinia (Italy).

Salzman received his PhD in Anthropology in 1972 at the University of Chicago and has spent most of his career as a member of the Department of Anthropology at McGill University in Montreal; he has also held positions at the University of St. Andrews, the American University of Central Asia, the University of Catania Italy, and University of Sydney.

Salzman is the author of eighteen monographs and edited volumes and scores of journal articles and chapter contributions. These include Black Tents of Baluchistan (Smithsonian Press 2000), Pastoralism: Equality, Hierarchy and the State (2004) and important edited volumes including When Nomads Settle (1980), The Anthropology of Tribal and Peasant Pastoral Societies (1996 with Ugo Fabietti), The Future of Pastoral Peoples (1981, co-edited with John Galaty), and Nomads in a Changing World (1990).

Salzman’s journal and chapter articles remain among the most cited in the field, including “Movement and Resource Extraction Among Pastoral Nomads: The Case of the Shah Nawazi Baluch."(1971 Anthropology Quarterly), “The status of nomadism as a cultural phenomenon in the Middle East” (1972 Journal of Asian and African Studies); “Tribal Chiefs as Middlemen” (1974 Anthropological Quarterly), “Does Complementary Opposition Exist? (1978 American Anthropologist), “Inequality and oppression in nomadic society” (1979 Pastoral Production and Society, edited by L'Equipe Ecologie, "Is Inequality Universal?" (1999 Current Anthropology), "Hierarchical Image and Reality: The Construction of a Tribal Chiefship" (2000, Comparative Studies In Society And History); "Pastoral Nomads: Some General Observations Based on Research in Iran" (2002, Journal of Anthropological Research), "Toward a Balanced Approach to the Study of Equality"(2002 Current Anthropology). Salzman’s more recent work include Culture and Conflict in the Middle East (2007, Prometheus Books), and Post-Colonial Theory and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (2008 edited with Donna Robinson Divine, Routledge Press).

Philip Salzman founded the Commission on Nomadic Peoples in 1978 and served as its first chair from 1978-1993; he also was first editor of the Nomadic Peoples Newsletter, later becoming the journal Nomadic Peoples. His scholarship has been foundational to the anthropology of nomadic peoples, and his contributions to our discipline have been monumental.

IUAES Commission on Nomadic Peoples Lifetime Achievement was awarded 15 June 2018