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The Hon. Camilla Hildegarde Wedgwood (25 March 1901 Barlaston, England - 17 May 1955) was a British anthropologist best known for research in the Pacific and her pioneering role as one of the British Commonwealth's first female anthropologists.
Wedgwood's father was Josiah Wedgwood later the first Baron Wedgwood. Her mother, Ethel Bowen Wedgwood, was the daughter of a Lord Justice of Appeal, Charles Bowen. She was a member of the extensive Wedgwood family.
A well-known intellectual in the mould of Virginia Woolf, she attended Orme Girls' School in Staffordshire, Bedales, and then studied English at Bedford College and Newnham College, Cambridge. During her childhood, her parents separated and later divorced.
It was at Cambridge that she studied under Alfred Cort Haddon, one of the most recognized anthropologists of the time. As a result she decided to become an anthropologist. One of her first tasks after graduation in 1926 was to edit the manuscript of Malekula: A Vanishing People in the New Hebrides by the late Arthur Bernard Deacon (another of Haddon's students) for publication after Deacon's death in 1927. She taught anthropology briefly at Bedford before moving to Sydney University, where she took up a position in that institution's newly founded department of anthropology in 1928. She also taught at the University of Cape Town before returning to England in 1931 where she worked as a lecturer and personal assistant to Bronisław Malinowski at the London School of Economics.
In 1932 Wedgwood received a grant from the Australian Research Council to conduct fieldwork on Manam Island off the north coast of Papua New Guinea on the border of what are today Madang and East Sepik provinces. After her return from fieldwork she became involved in creating education policy for Nauru and held a position as the principlan of the new women's college at the University of Sydney. During World War II she volunteered in Women's Services in the Australian army and was involved in formulating policy on education and administration in Papua New Guinea.
After the war Wedgwood took a position at the Australian School of Pacific Administration, which was responsible for training Australian colonial officers and administrators. She continued in this role until her death in 1955 of lung cancer.
Sources and further reading
- Camilla : C.H. Wedgwood 1901-1955, a Life. 1990. By D. Wetherell and C. Carr-Gregg. Kensington, N.S.W. : New South Wales University Press.
- She was Very Cambridge: Camilla Wedgwood and the History of Women in British Anthropology. 1986. By Nancy Lutkehaus. American Ethnologist 13(4):776-98.
- Finding guide for Wedgwood's Papers in the National Library of Australia
- Australian Dictionary of Biography