BIOGRAPHIES:  Richard and Sally Price

A Lifetime of Collaboration in the Caribbean:

The Professional Biography of Richard and Sally Price

By Kellie Hogue


Measuring Their Influence Upon Caribbeanist Anthropology

The Intellectual Genealogy of Richard and Sally Price


Collaboration, consistency, and commitment. These three words characterize the academic careers of Richard and Sally Price, a collaborative anthropological partnership for over thirty-five years which continues to draw intellectually upon the legacies of two institutional traditions, Columbia University and the University of Chicago.  Their research has been influenced specifically by two particular mentors—Evon Vogt and Sidney Mintz—who in turn were influenced by anthropologists at the University of Chicago like Robert Redfield, Fred Eggan, and Clyde Kluckhohn, and anthropologists at Columbia like Ruth Benedict, Julian Steward, Alexander Lesser, and Eric Wolf. Vogt, as director of the Harvard Chiapas Project, insisted that his students must learn the language of the people under study, that they must live closely with them and work beside them, as well as attend all rites and religious ceremonies—and Richard and Sally Price have continued to follow these precepts for their entire careers, collaborating together not only with the Saramaka of Surinam, but with their colleagues and mentors who study the Anthropology of the Caribbean.  As part of a larger semester-long project which investigates Caribbeanist Anthropology this essay presents a professional biography for Richard and Sally Price, for the decades of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, from material drawn directly from their website,

The 1960s

Richard Price began his fieldwork in Vicos, Peru in 1961 as an undergraduate at Harvard. Throughout 1962 and 1963, he did fieldwork in Martinique, and graduated from Harvard University in 1963 with an A.B. in History and Literature. Sally studied at the Sorbonne during 1963 and 1964. The award of a NIMH predoctoral fellowship provided vital funding for Richard’s research from 1963 through 1968, and during 1963-64, he studied at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris. During these years he also did field work in Andalusia and published his first article on Martinique, “Magie et peche a la Martinique” in L’Homme. During 1965 and 1966, Richard and Sally did fieldwork in Zinacantan, Mexico as part of the Harvard Chiapas Project with their mentor Evon Vogt and Richard published articles in Ethnology, American Anthropologist, Caribbean Studies, Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, and Man drawn from his fieldwork in Martinique and Andalusia. At the same time, Sally edited two texts by Evon Z. Vogt: Zinacantan: A Maya Community in the Highlands of Chiapas (1969) and The Zinacantecos of Mexico: A Modern Maya Way of Life (1970), receiving her A.B. from Harvard in 1965 in French Literature. From 1966 through 1968, Richard did fieldwork in Suriname and published articles in L’Homme (about dentistry in Andalusia) and International Archives of Ethnography (about the Maya and land use). Richard then took a position as an Assistant Professor and lecturer at Yale in 1969 and served in that capacity until 1974. Additional funding for his research came from a NATO Postdoctoral fellowship in Science from 1969-1970.

The 1970s

  Richard earned his doctorate in social anthropology from Harvard in 1970 and collaborated with Sally for an article which appeared in Estudios de Cultura Maya. Two other articles appeared in 1970: “Saramaka emigration and marriage: a case study of social change,” (Southwestern Journal of Anthropology) and “Saramaka woodcarving: the development of an Afroamerican art,” (Man). Another article on Caribbean family organization appeared in 1971 and during the years of 1972-73, Richard received a SSRC-ACLS Postdoctoral Research Fellowship for Latin America, facilitating four more articles on the Saramaka (entitled: “The Guiana Maroons: changing perspectives in ‘Bush Negro’ studies,” “Kammba: the ethnohistory of an Afro-American Art,” “Saramaka onomastics: an Afro-American naming system,” and “Avenging Spirits and the structure of Saramaka lineages” –two of these were collaborations with Sally) and the release of his first book, Maroon Societies: Rebel slave Communities in the Americas was published.

In 1974, Richard left Yale, became the general editor for a series called Johns Hopkins Studies in Atlantic History and Culture, published an article on aerial photography and Mayan land use, and became Chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. Sally, in turn, received a Johns Hopkins Fellowship for 1974-1975. Also in 1974 Richard began a five year fieldwork project in Suriname (through 1979) with the assistance of a National Science Foundation Grant (1976-1978).

The support he received for his research allowed him to quickly publish two articles (one in Dutch concerning the Saramaka and another in English about linguistics/play languages and the Saramaka) and three books during 1975 and 1976: Saramaka Social Structure: Analysis of a Maroon Society in Surinam (Rio Piedras: Institute of Caribbean Studies of the University of Puerto Rico, 1975),  An Anthropological Approach to the Afro-American Past: A Caribbean Perspective (Philadelphia: ISHI Publications, 1976), and The Guiana Maroons: A Historical and Bibliographical Introduction (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press: 1976).

During this period Sally received the Danforth Foundation Graduate Fellowship for Women and Summer Field Grants from the Atlantic History and Culture Program of the Johns Hopkins University, enabling her and Richard to continue their collaborative work. Funding from the National Science Foundation for 1977-79, and 1978-79, in conjunction with a Fulbright Hays doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship (1977-78) and a Research Grant from the Tropical South American Program of the University of Florida (1978) furthered her scholarship. As a result, Sally was awarded Second Prize in the Elsie Clews Parsons Essay Competition in 1977. 

In 1978, Sally published an article in Ethnology entitled “Reciprocity and Social Distance: A Reconsideration.” Richard received a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies in 1978, and remained as chair of the department through 1977. From 1978 through 1981 he was guest curator of the UCLA Museum of Cultural History, the Walters Art Gallery and a member of the faculty editorial board of Johns Hopkins University Press. During the same period (1979 and 1980) Sally served the museum as a Senior Museum Scientist. In 1979, Richard again took the helm of the Department of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins, published four articles in Dutch about the John Gabriel Stedman expedition to Surinam, and remained chair until 1985.

The 1980s

In 1980, Richard became the advisory editor for anthropology and a general editor of Studies on the Non-Western Arts, a G.K. Hall and Co. publication. From 1980-1982, both he and Sally became members of the editorial board of the New West Indian Guide. In 1982, he co-curated an exhibition with Sally Price entitled “Afro American Arts from the Suriname Rain forest.”  The exhibition received sponsorship from the UCLA Museum of Cultural History and received financial support from three separate grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The exhibition was featured in four separate locations and resulted in the publishing of a guide and four related articles, The American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, and the Frederick S. Wright Gallery in Los Angeles. Richard and Sally also co-curated and exhibit entitled “Arte afroamericano en el Caribe” at the Museo del Hombre Dominicano in Santo Domingo with Sally.

In 1981, Richard contributed an article entitled “Les societes des esclaves marrons” to a volume edited by colleague, Sidney Mintz. In 1981, his first book, Maroon Societies was translated into a Spanish-language version and published. Sally became book review for New West Indian Guide in 1982 and held the position until 1986. Also in 1982, Richard received a Fulbright Senior Fellowship to the Universities of Leiden and Utrecht and collaborated with Chris De Beet in a publication entitled “De Saramakaanse vred van 1762: geselecteerde documenten.” Sally was a post doctoral fellow at the University of Utrecht at the same time, having been granted a NATO postdoctoral fellowship in Science, and her doctorate in social anthropology from Johns Hopkins was conferred in 1982. While serving on the National Advisory Board for the Women and Culture Series to be published by University of Michigan Press, in 1982, she also received the Alice and Edith Hamilton Prize in Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan and published two articles, “Sexism and the Construction of Reality: An Afro-American Example” in American Ethnologist and “Wives, Husbands, and More Wives” in Caribbean Review.

For the next couple of years (1982-1984) she was a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins, and became an assistant professor in anthropology there in 1984-85. During this period she received financial support for her research from Wenner-Gren Foundation grants-in-aid and co-edited a set of pamphlets commissioned by the Woodrow Wilson International Center with Sidney Mintz entitled Focus: Caribbean. In 1983, Richard became a member of the editorial board for Ethnohistory and spent time in the field in Martinique. First-Time: Historical Vision of an Afro-American People was published in 1983 by Johns Hopkins University Press and another text, To Slay the Hydra: Dutch colonial Perspectives on the Saramaka Wars came out that same year from Karoma, a press in Ann Arbor.

In 1984, Richard received the Elsie Clews Parsons Prize from the American Folklore Society for First-Time. Two more articles (“To every thing a season: the development of Saramaka calendrical reckoning,” and “First-time: anthropology and history among the Saramaka”) were published in 1984, followed by three more in 1985, (“The dark complete world of a Caribbean store: a note on the world system,” “John Gabriel Stedman’s ‘Journal of a Voyage to the West Indies in ye Year 1772. In a Poetical Epistle to a Friend,” (with Sally) and “An Absence of ruins? Seeking Caribbean historical consciousness”). Sally’s book, Co-Wives and Calabashes came out in 1984, followed shortly by an edited collection with Sidney Mintz entitled Caribbean Contours. Richard returned to Paris as the Directeur d’Etudes Associe at the Ecole des Hautes E’tudes en Sciences Sociales during 1985-1986 with the assistance of an NSF-CNRS US-France Exchange of Scientists Fellowship.

Sally, meanwhile, became assistant professor of anthropology and art history during 1985-86 and received a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, and this appointment overlapped with her position as Chercheur Associe at the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale in Paris from 1985-87. From 1985 through 1988, she also received a research grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, and declined a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship from the University of Pennsylvania. From 1986 through 1989, Sally wrote and published about art. The next year, 1986-1987, Richard served as a visiting professor in the Departement d’Ethnologie at the University de paris-X Nanterre and the Departement des Pays Anglophones, Universite de Paris-VIII St. Denis, as part of a CNRS Research Fellowship and spent more time in the field in Martinique.

Also in 1986, Richard’s article published in 1984 about First-Time was translated into Spanish and published in Revista de Ciencias Sociales. In 1987, both Sally and Richard Price left Johns Hopkins for the University of Minnesota, as visiting professors at the Institute of International Studies. During this period, Richard contributed a chapter on Afro-Surinamese religions to Mircia Eliade’s Encyclopedia of Religion (New York: The Free Press, 1987). In 1987, he also returned to the field for the first time since 1979, doing research in French Guiana. The very next year, 1988, he became a Marta Sutton Weeks Senior Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center for one year (Sally took an associate fellowship at the center and served as a visiting professor in the department of anthropology at Stanford) and became a member of the editorial committee for the Association of Black Anthropologists as well as a member of the editorial board for the association’s journal, Transforming Anthropology.

To accommodate these new responsibilities, he ended his service as a member of the editorial board for Ethnohistory.  Richard also spent time during this period in Martinique, and collaborated with Sally to publish John Gabriel Stedman’s Narrative of a Five Years Expedition Against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam in 1988, a transcribed and edited volume from a manuscript from 1790.  In 1988, Sally became a member of the editorial board of Hemisphere. In 1989, a collaborative piece with Niko Price and Sally Price appeared in Ethnographic Encounters in Southern Mesoamerica: Essays in Honor of Evon Zartman Vogt, Jr. entitled “Indian Summers.” Three more articles appeared in 1989 (one a collaboration with Sally), two related to the Saramaka and one about Stedman’s expedition. In1989, they became a members of the Comite Scientificate, Musee Regional de Guyane (Cayenne, French Guiana)—a position they both still hold.

The 1990s

Sally took on a co-editing position in 1990 for a book entitled Rights of Culture, a project sponsored by the National Public Radio and the Mexican Museum of San Francisco and became a member of the editorial committee for the Association of Black Anthropologists as well as a member of the editorial board of Transforming Anthropology. . In 1990, both he and Sally became book review editor for the New West Indian Guide and Richard ended his service as an editor for Studies on the Non-Western Arts. 1990 saw the publication of Alabi’s World and five more articles all related to Maroons, two of them in collaboration with Sally. Richard also returned to fieldwork in French Guiana from 1990 through 1992.

He also performed field research in Martinique during this period with the assistance of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship and a Wenner-Gren Foundation grant-in-aid.  Five more articles appeared from Richard in 1991: four were contributions in French (“Monde caraibe,” “Les ameriques noires,” “Hershkovitz, Melville J.” and “Kluckhohn, Clyde”) to the Dictionaire de l’ethnologie et de l’anthropologie (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France). Sally contributed to the dictionary as well (“Parure”) and also published articles on Michael Leiris and cultural authority. Sally became involved with Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly in 1991 as a member of the editorial board, and remained on the board until 1993. In 1991, Richard received the Albert J. Beveridge Award from the American Historical Association for Alabi’s World.

In 1991, Two Evenings in Saramaka came out, a collaboration with Sally Price.In 1992, Sally and Richard Price became fellows at the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University and Richard received the Gordon K. Lewis Memorial Award for Caribbean Scholarship from the Caribbean Studies Association for Alabi’s World.  While at Princeton, Sally also lectured in the department of Art and Archaeology and received another Wenner-Gren Foundation grant-in-aid, a National Endowment for the Humanities research grant, and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial fellowship. Richard published four more articles during this time, two in collaboration with Sally, and in four different languages – English, Portuguese, German, and Spanish. He and Sally also found time to release an abridged version of John Gabriel Stedman’s narrative entitled Stedman’s Surinam: Life in an Eighteenth-Century Slave Society, and Richard teamed with Sidney Mintz to publish The Birth of African-American Culture.

That same year, 1992, he published collaboration with Sally entitled Equatoria, featuring pen and ink sketches by Sally. And during this time period, Sally collaborated with Jean Jamin to publish C’est-a-dire.  In 1993, Price became a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, received the J.L. Stanley Prize in Anthropology from the School of American Research for Alabi’s World, and published two more articles (“Collective fictions: performance in Saramaka folktales,” and “Los otros de los otros”). Out of five of her articles that year, Sally collaborated with Richard on three and published two on her own. Sally’s co-editorship of Rights of Culture, a project started in 1990, ended when the project was cancelled in 1993. First Time was translated into French in 1994 and from 1992-1994 Richard received funding from the National Endowment of the Humanities and also published On the Mall: Presenting Maroon Tradition-Bearers with Sally.  Both Richard and Sally became the Duane A. and Virginia S. Dittman Professors of American Studies, Anthropology, and History at the College of William and Mary in 1994 (they continue their professional affiliation with the College of William and Mary to the present day).

In 1994, he became a Rockefeller Humanities Fellow as part of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida. That same year, Price served as a George A. Miller Endowment Visiting Professor in History and Anthropology at the University of Illinois. Sally went to Florida and Illinois as well – spending the spring as a visiting scholar and the fall in the same capacity as Richard.  Four more articles in 1994 were followed by six articles in 1995 and three more in 1996.  Their positions as reviewers at the New West Indian Guide gave them the opportunity to produce essays that evaluated dozens of books about the Caribbean throughout the mid-1990s (an activity they continue). 

In 1995, Price became a consulting editor for the Encyclopedia of Latin American and Caribbean Cultures, a Routledge publication (a position he held until 2000) and spent time in French Guiana as fieldwork. In 1995 he collaborated with Sally on Enigma Variations. Richard also updated the introduction to Maroon Societies in 1996 and Sally supervised a large student-curated exhibit at the College of William and Mary on the calabashes from the Suriname rain forest.  From 1997 until 2000 she managed a variety of smaller student curated exhibits and served on the editorial board of Ethnohistory.  He returned to French Guiana in 1997, and Sally received a summer research grant from the College of William and Mary that same year. 

Additionally, during this time Richard collaborated again with Sidney Mintz on an article entitled “The Birth of African American Culture” which appeared in Fulop and Raboteau’s African-American Religion: Interpretive Essays in History and Culture (New York: Routledge, 1997).  That same year “Shadowboxing in the Mangrove” appeared in Cultural Anthropology. In 1998, Richard and Sally Price were visiting professors in Brazil in the Department of History at Universidade Federal de Bahia and both received funding from Fulbright Senior Fellowships, giving Richard the opportunity to contribute to the Macmillan Encyclopedia of World Slavery (“Literature of Slavery: Dutch Literature,” “Maroons,” and “Slave Republics”), the New West Indian Guide (“Scrapping Maroon History: Brazil’s Promise, Suriname’s Shame”), and A Historical Guide to World Slavery (“Maroons”). 

In 1998, The Convict and the Colonel was published and Enigma Variations was translated into German.  Richard ended his service on the editorial board of the Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages in 1998 and from 1998 through 1990; he served as a member of the editorial board of the Caribbean Review. In 1999 Sally received another Summer Research grant from the College of William and Mary as well as the Graduate Research Dean’s Seed Money Award. In 1999, Richard collaborated with Sally on Maroon Arts: Cultural Vitality in the African Diaspora, and Richard contributed five more articles to his published work on Saramaka, writing in English, Portuguese, Dutch, and Spanish. Sally, in turn, contributed nine more articles to her work.

The 2000s

Sally became a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000 and both her and Richard became a member of the editorial board of the New World Diasporas series, published out of the University Press of Florida. That same year, Richard returned to French Guiana as fieldwork (this work continues).  Also in 2000, The Convict and the Colonel was translated into French (by Sally) and Maroon Arts was translated into Dutch.

During 2001-02, Sally received funding from a Faculty Research Assignment. In 2001, eight more articles appeared from Richard and seven from Sally in a wide range of publications, from encyclopedias and edited volumes to journals and guides—some in collaboration, some not—and Richard became a member once again of the editorial board of Ethnohistory. In 2002, he returned to France as Directeur d’Etudes Invite, Section Sciences Religieuses (Sorbonne), at the Ecole Praticques des Hautes Etudes, Paris.

Also in 2002, he and Sally became members of the editorial board of Tipiti. That same year they co-curated a permanent exhibition entitled “Suriname: Afroamerikaner” and “Suriname: andere (Javanen, Inder, Chinesen)” at the Volkerkundemuseum Herrnhut in Germany, a two wing exhibit occupying eighty-eight square meters of space and resulted in three more related publications.. In 2003, Richard and Sally returned to Brazil as visiting professors at Universidade Federal Rio de Janiero on a Fulbright Senior Specialists Grant and The Birth of African American Culture was translated into Portuguese. He also collaborated with Sally in 2003 for the release of Les Marrons as well as The Root of Roots: Or, How Afro-American Anthropology Got Its Start. A Dutch translation of The Birth of African American Culture also came out in 2003.

For 2005-2007, he was awarded a National Science Foundation Research Grant. Sally, during 2005 and 2006, received a Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Grant as well as a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship. In 2005, The Convict and the Colonel was translated into Spanish and an expanded edition of Maroon Arts was released in French. In 2006, he collaborated with Sally on Romare Bearden: The Caribbean Dimension (published in English and French.) During the five year period from 2001 through 2006, they have published over forty articles in a variety of languages and publications. Richard is currently at work on a book tentatively entitled Travels with Tooy.  Sally is currently at work on a book entitled The House that Jacques Built: Art and Difference in France.

Measuring Their Influence Upon Caribbeanist Anthropology

The work of Richard and Sally Price has directly influenced the transformation of Caribbeanist Anthropology from a small subfield to a vibrant, active, and growing field of study.  Sally’s research on gender and aesthetics, complemented by Richard’s work on ethnography and human rights, has resulted in the widening of former fields like African American Studies and Caribbean Studies into new spaces of inquiry becoming more and more identified in terms like Diaspora Studies and African American and African Diaspora Studies.  In particular, their influence in the field can be measured through the numerous books and articles they have published, through their multiple and often co-joint editorial assignments, their continued and consistent receipt of funding by major institutional and governmental granting agencies, and their engagement with colleagues and mentors in all facets of inquiry about and concerning Caribbean life and culture.

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