Lucy Mair Medal and Marsh Prize

The Lucy Mair Medal honours excellence in the application of anthropology to the relief of poverty and distress, and to the active recognition of human dignity.

In 2016, the MCT began supporting this Award and it became the Lucy Mair Medal and Marsh Prize for Applied Anthropology.

Nominations are judged by the Royal Anthropological Institute Honours and Awards committee and the winner is presented with their Award at the Royal Anthropological Institute annual AGM.

See here for more information on how to nominate.

Melissa Leach 2019

Melissa Leach is a social anthropologist specialising in environmental and science-society issues. She is the Director of the institute of Developmental Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex. Melissa co-founded and co-directed the ESRC STEPS (Social, Technical and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre from 2006 to 2014, with its pioneering pathways approach to innovation, sustainability and development issues. ESRC STEPS highlight, reveal and contribute to just and democratic pathways to sustainability that include the needs, knowledge and perspectives of poor and marginalised people.

Her interdisciplinary, policy engaged research in Africa and beyond links environment, agriculture, health, technology and gender, with particular interests in knowledge, power and the politics of science and policy processes.

Previous Winners

Professor Claire Smith

Claire is a Professor of Archaeology in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Flinders University in Australia. She has produced 10 books and more than 150 publications in a number of languages and is editor of the 11-volume Encyclopaedia of Global Archaeology which ha been downloaded more than 287,000 times. Claire has a broad intellectual vision and an inter-disciplinary approach to research, teaching and public engagement.

Claire’s main field of research is indigenous archaeology, especially rock art and gender, and culturally-informed development in indigenous communities. She has worked with Aboriginal communities in the Barunga region of Australia since 1990. She is currently working to develop culturally sustainable health care services in remote Aboriginal communities which engage with their traditional knowledge and practices. By taking a culturally informed and safe approach, Claire is aiming to bridge the gap of cultural knowledge between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in order to close the gap in health, longevity, education and employment.

Professor Richard Leakey

Professor Richard Leakey is an African paleoanthropologist and conservationist who has done more than perhaps any other man to help secure the future of Kenyan wildlife and natural resources. From the early stages of his career, Richard has been at the forefront of discoveries on early mankind, unearthing the Koobi Fora, a skull nearly two million years old. Later in his career, appalled at the state of wildlife preservation, Richard single-handedly led the strengthening of anti-poaching measures and their implementation, coming into contact with a number of corrupt politicians along the way. After nearly losing his life in a plane crash, Richard moved into a succession of official positions. As well as maintaining his academic work, he is now pursuing private initiatives aimed at creating and preserving wildlife parks. He is a modern-day, larger than life figure who has achieved immense things in increasing the dignity of life in Kenya, an achievement that spreads far beyond its boundaries, and shows what a single person, given resources and determination, can do.

Professor Ralph Grillo and Professor Paul Richards

Professor Ralph Grillo

Professor Grillo is an Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex. He was also founding director of the Research Centre for Culture, Development and the Environment at the University. Since the mid-1990s, Professor Grillo’s research has focused on cultural diversity and its governance in France, Italy and the UK and he has published a number of works in this area. Most recently, he has been working with anthropologists, lawyers and political scientists on issues relating to cultural and religious diversity and the law in Europe and North America, with a particular interest in the ‘legal industry’ which has grown up around Islam. Through his work with the Sussex Centre of Migration Research, Professor Grillo has been actively involved with a number of Advisory Boards for socio-cultural diversity and anthropology.

Professor Paul Richards

Professor Richards is one of the foremost anthropologists working in West Africa, particularly in Sierra Leone. His early work focused on ethnographic studies of Mende village rice farming and forest conservation, however he is probably best known for his work on the anthropology of conflict. Most recently, Professor Richards has been focused on the recent Ebola outbreak that has been crippling both Sierra Leone and Liberia. His contributions ‘from the field’ (which provided an insight into communities’ experience of the epidemic and analysis based on over 30 years of fieldwork in the region), provided important information to international governments, agencies and the wider community.