Renowned Boston University Anthropologist, Fredrik Barth, Honored By University of Aarhus

Contact: Ann Marie Menting, 617/353-2240 | amenting@bu.edu

(Boston, Mass.) — Fredrik Barth, a professor of anthropology at Boston University, has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Aarhus at recent ceremonies marking the Denmark institution’s 75th anniversary. Barth, an internationally renowned theoretical anthropologist, was conferred the degree by the University’s dean of the faculty of arts.

The University of Aarhus, one of two major universities in Denmark, includes Her Majesty Queen Margrethe of Denmark and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik, both of whom were honored guests at the anniversary ceremony, among its alumni.

For more than four decades, Barth, a native of Norway, has played an influential role in the development of contemporary anthropological thought. He is perhaps best known for his 1969 work Ethnic Groups and Boundaries, an anthology in which Barth put forward the theory that ethnicity rather than culture defines group identity. In this work, the concept of ethnicity, or individuals identifying with one another on the basis of perceived similarity, is shown to establish social boundaries within which a group’s culture is expressed.

Active as both a field anthropologist and a theoretician, Barth’s research has contributed to the fields of political, economic, and ecological anthropology. In recent years, Barth has studied how knowledge is transferred within cultures, including the factors that channel or limit the creation of new knowledge and knowledge traditions. His contributions in this area were acknowledged by the University of Aarhus as having “refreshed and enriched the study of culture in complex societies.”

Faculty in Boston University’s Department of Anthropology investigate issues in sociocultural and biological anthropology. The Department is exceptionally strong in the study of cultures and societies in the Islamic world, East and Southeast Asia, and Africa.

Boston University, the nation’s fourth largest independent university, has an enrollment of more than 29,000 in its 17 schools and colleges.