Skip Content

Professor Ruth Finnegan

Social & Cultural Anthropology, Other Branches
Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University
Ruth Finnegan OBE was born (1933) in the beautiful fraught once-island city of Derry, Northern Ireland, and brought up there, together with several magical years during the war in Donegal. She had her education at the Ballymore first School I County Donegal, Londonderry High School, Mount (Quaker) School York, then first class honours in Classics and a doctorate in Anthropology at Oxford. This was followed by fieldwork and university teaching in Africa (principally Sierra Leone and Nigeria). She then joined the pioneering Open University as a founding member of the academic staff, where she spent the rest of her career apart from 3 years (and more fieldwork) at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, and is now, proudly, an Open University Emeritus Professor. She was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1996, and is also an Honorary Fellow of Somerville College Oxford. She has three daughters and five grandchildren and lives in Old Bletchley, southern England, with her husband of over 50 years, where she runs her small publishing business, Callender Press, founded to publish her parents' writing, and in great happiness continues her research and writing, including her surprising, dream-led, venture into fiction. Websites:
British Academy appointments
  • Member of Council, 2001 - 2004
Past appointments
  • Lecturer in Sociology, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, 1965 - 1969
  • Reader in Sociology, University of South Pacific, Fiji, 1975 - 1978
  • (Founding) Member of academic staff, Social Sciences, The Open University, 1969 - 1999
  • Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University, 1988 -
Principal publications
  • Oral literature in Africa 1970
  • Oral poetry 1977 / 1992
  • The hidden musicians 1989 / 2007
  • Communicating 2002
  • Communicating: The Multiple Modes of Human Interconnection 2002
  • Why do we quote? The culture and history of quotation 2011
  • Black inked pearl: one girl's quest (an African-inspired semi-autobiographical novel)
  • Ruth Finnegan anthropologist

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.


Add a comment to this line