Today we are proud here to introduce and welcome a new writer
into our fold who will contribute a more than worthwhile anthropological
article to what is rapidly becoming a unique on-line weekly
publication each Saturday.
Kirk W Huffman is an Anglo-American anthropologist/ethnologist
who has been resident here on the island of Ibiza since 1990.
Between 1966 and 1977 he pursued studies
in Anthropology, Prehistoric Archaeology and Ethnology at
the universities of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Oxford and Cambridge
in the UK.
Being an anthropologist/ethnologist, his
interests are in the vast array of different cultures around
the world and he has tended to concentrate on relatively isolated,
traditionally-oriented societies still following ancient and
time-honoured lifestyles - the kind of societies that are,
unfortunately, rapidly changing or dying out in our fast-changing
Since 1966 he has visited, worked with,
or lived with well over 100 such societies ranging from tribal
groups in North Africa and the northern Sahara to South America,
and areas of the Pacific including the Solomon Islands but
particularly Vanuatu (the former new Hebrides).
Kirk Huffman first went from Cambridge University
to the then New Hebrides (Vanuatu after Independence in 1980)
in 1973, then again in 1974 and 1976. This is in the Southwest
Pacific - a rather small chain of 83 inhabited volcanic islands
west of Fiji and south of the Solomon Islands - population
only about 190,000 people (indigenous Melanesians) but with
113 different languages and a corresponding complexity of
cultures Vanuatu actually works out as having twice as many
languages and cultures as the whole of Europe! And they're
not simple languages or cultures either; the languages are
ancient and sophisticated the cultures ancient and complex.
Since 1973 Huffman spent a total of 17 years in Vanuatu doing
anthropological work, and his work still goes on, its a never-ending
Between 1977 and 1989 he was Curator of
the (National Museum section) Vanuatu Cultural Centre in Vanuatu's
capital, Port Vila. He came to live in Ibiza in 1990, but
being appointed Honorary Curator of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre
since 1991 has returned to continue cultural activities in
Vanuatu every year (except 1993) since his departure from
His last visit was during September and
October 2000. Since 1974 he has acted as anthropological advisor
on over 30 documentary films regarding aspects of Vanuatu
cultures, has produced numerous cultural radio programmes,
has lectured widely in academic institutions ranging from
the Metropolitan Museum in New York, Harvard, the University
of Hawaii, the Royal Anthropological Institute, the Museum
den Kulturen in Basel, (Switzerland), the Australian Museum
(Sydney), etc. He has recently returned to Ibiza after a year
as Visiting Fellow in the Anthropology Division of the Australian
Shortly before leaving Ibiza last year for
Sydney he was invited by the Society of friends of the Ibiza
Archaeological Museum to give three days of lectures here
Kirk has published widely in anthropological
works regarding aspects of Vanuatu cultures and those of the
public interested in some of this material should read his
jointly edited work; Bonnemaison, J, K. Huffman, C. Kaufmann
& D.Tryon, "Arts of Vanuatu", published in Australia
in 1996 and also published by the University of Hawaii Press
His anthropological interests are, however,
more 'hands-on' than publication-orientated, he feeling that
a significant percentage of anthropologists seem to be more
concerned about publications than about actually helping the
people they are writing about.
Huffman's concern is more with helping people
and cultures to survive than writing about them, an approach
he calls 'anthropology with a heart'.
Being based in Ibiza since 1990, Huffman
has become an admirer of aspects of traditional Ibizincan
peasant society, a culture now rapidly disappearing.
I am very pleased to write and inform our
readers that the extraordinary Kirk W Huffman will be contributing
regularly to our weekly publication (when he is here on the
island or is somewhere contactable in the world) with items
relating to Ibiza seen through an anthropological viewpoint
and then sometimes expanded around the world.
Kirk and his Spanish wife Yvonne (also an
anthropologist) live in a 15th century Casa Pagesa six kilometres
from San Antonio in an area where (thankfully) no tourists
go. Huffman would like me to say that although he has worked
with many different peoples and tribes in many far-flung and
isolated corners of the world, he has not yet met a tribe
that he would class as 'primitive' or without culture, although
he has asked me to point out that he has come across groups
of people in places such as New York, London, Paris, etc,
that might be classed as 'primitive and without culture'.
Confine: Kirk W Huffman was asked this question
during a local island newspaper interview:
How would you define anthropology?
Kirk's answer was: Well, one of my professors
at university used to say that it was "the study of mankind