The Forest People

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The Forest People (1961) is Colin Turnbull's ethnographic study of the Mbuti pygmies of the then-Belgian Congo (later Zaire and now Democratic Republic of Congo).

"The Forest People"
First edition
AuthorColin Turnbull
Set inAfrica
PublisherSimon & Schuster
Publication date

In this book, the British-American anthropologist detailed his three years spent with the community in the late 1950s. The style is informal and accessible. Turnbull contrasts his forest-living subjects' lifestyle with that of nearby town-dwelling Africans and evaluates the interactions of the two groups.

The editor for the book was Michael Korda who attended Oxford University with Turnbull.[1]

The Forest People was the version for a general readership of Turnbull's academic thesis, which was published in an expanded, more technical form by Routledge in London as Wayward Servants: The Two Worlds of the African Pygmies (1965). Turnbull wrote about his experiences with the tribe from a first person perspective as he trove through many years with the African Pygmies. The Mbuti tribe respected him, and attempted to show him their cultural prospects as a society until a drastic change in their lifestyles occurred.[further explanation needed]


  1. ^ Korda, Michael (1999). Another life: a memoir of other people (1st ed.). New York: Random House. ISBN 0679456597.

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