Alfred Gell

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Alfred (Antony Francis) Gell (12 June 1945 – 28 January 1997) was a British social anthropologist whose most influential work concerned art, language, symbolism and ritual.


  • Metamorphosis of the Cassowaries: Umeda Society, Language and Ritual, London: Athlone, 1975, x+366 pp. Based on dissertation submitted to the London School of Economics and Political Science (1973).
  • "Magic, Perfume, Dream", in Symbols and Sentiments: Cross-cultural Studies in Symbolism, ed. Ioan Lewis, London: Academic Press, 1977, pp 25-38.
  • "Anthropology, Material Culture and Consumerism", Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford 19:1, 1988, pp 43-47.
  • "Inter-tribal Commodity Barter and Reproductive Gift-Exchange in Old Melanesia", in Barter, Exchange and Value: An Anthropological Approach, eds. Caroline Humphrey and Stephen Hugh-Jones, Cambridge University Press, 1992, pp 142-168; repr. as ch 2 in Gell, The Art of Anthropology: Essays and Diagrams, 1999, pp 76-106.
    • "Trueque inter-tribal de mercancias e intercambio reproductivo de regalos en la antigua Melanesia", in Trueque, intercambio y valor: aproximaciones antropológicas, eds. Caroline Humphrey and Stephen Hugh-Jones, Quito: Abya-Yala, 1998. (Spanish)
  • "Under the Sign of the Cassowary", in Shooting the Sun: Ritual and Meaning in the West Sepik, ed. B. Juillerat, Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992.
  • Wrapping in Images: Tattooing in Polynesia, Oxford: Clarendon, 1993, xi+347 pp.
  • "The Language of the Forest: Landscape and Phonological Iconism in Umeda", in The Anthropology of Landscape: Perspectives on Place and Space, eds. Eric Hirsch and Michael O'Hanlon, Oxford: Clarendon, 1995, pp 232-254; repr. as ch 8 in Gell, The Art of Anthropology: Essays and Diagrams, 1999, pp 232-258.
  • "Closure and Multiplication: an Essay on Polynesian Cosmology and Ritual", in Cosmos and Society in Oceania, eds. Daniel de Coppet and André Iteanu, Oxford: Berg, 1995, pp 21-56.
  • "Time and Social Anthropology", in Time, Language and Cognition, ed. Y. Nagano, Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology, 1998; repr. in Time in Contemporary Intellectual Thought, ed. Patrick Baert, Elsevier, 2000, pp 251-268.