Ralph Bulmer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
For the 16th-century knight, see Ralph Bulmer (soldier)

Ralph Neville Hermon Bulmer (3 April 1928 – 18 July 1988) was a leading twentieth-century ethnobiologist.


Bulmer earned his B.A. at the University of Cambridge (1953) and his Ph.D. at Australian National University (1962). His doctorate was based on field-work in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea, where he documented the social and political life of the Kyaka-Enga people in the Baiyer Valley.

His later work, as lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Auckland, was in the field of Ethnobiology, particularly documenting the Kalam people's interaction with, and beliefs about, birds.[1]

Bulmer also served as Foundation Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Papua New Guinea (1968-73).

A memorial volume was published, Man and a Half: Essays in Pacific Anthropology and Ethnobiology in Honour of Ralph Bulmer, edited by Andrew Pawley (University of Hawaii Press, 1993).


Bulmer is best known for his collaborations with Ian Saem Majnep:

  • Birds of My Kalam Country (1977).
  • Kalam Hunting Traditions in 6 parts (1990).
  • Animals the Ancestors Hunted, edited by Robin Hide and Andrew Pawley (2007).

Towards the end of his life, Bulmer also considered biblical ethnoornithology, leading to the publication of The Unsolved Problems of the Birds of Leviticus (1986).


  1. ^ Obituary in the Journal of Ethnobiology 8:2 (1988), 215-218.

External links[edit]

  • Highlights of the Anthropology Photographic Archive, University of Auckland.