What a pleasure it is for a rapidly ageing graduate from the University of Cambridge to find himself in a position from which he can harangue a host of university professors and lecturers with apparent impunity? Even, dare I say it, my old social anthropology lecturer - Professor Leach.
His lectures were highly enjoyable - combining that ideal mixture of humour and information - although puzzling sometimes when investigating in detail the various relationships that exist with mothers-in-law and so on. If you can safely say that you enjoy a 'joking relationship' with your mother-in-law, then the world must be at your feet!
It has worried me considerably, since accepting the Patronage of this Institute in such tragic and shattering circumstances, that I have been unable to meet any of its members and perform my proper duties, but instead I have been observing many aspects of social anthropology in the raw in the Navy and have learnt a great deal about human behaviour as a result. I have also had time to think a little about the problems and challenges facing the RAI in the near future, as, I am sure, has almost everyone in this room tonight.
First of all, let me say that I agreed to become your Patron not only because of my past study of anthropology, but because I wanted to see the continuation of the Institute, the preservation of its superb library and the spread of the lessons to be learnt from even a polite knowledge of anthropology.
Of the continuation of the Institute I am certain. Of the preservation and rehousing of the library I have good reason to be hopeful, but the spread of popular appreciation of anthropology is a more complicated problem and one to which I have given a certain amount of thought.
The first thing to remember when searching for more funds is that the Institute is not a charitable body. It is not like an institute for immediately appealing things such as cancer relief and it is not well known. I doubt whether many people know what anthropology is by such things as the serialisation of The Naked Ape and The Human Zoo in the Sunday Mirror and several excellent travel films on the television. But, some might enquire, is it really necessary to make anthropology any more appealing and popular? And anyway, what good is it going to do?
The good it could do is to raise more essential money because, although it is earnestly hoped that the Government will assist in some way and Lord Eccles has given me cause for optimism, it is unlikely that much can be expected in the future owing to obvious and important priorities in Government spending. But it is essential to spread the basic knowledge of anthropology far wider for a whole multitude of reasons. Let me outline some of the ones I think are important.
Reason number one is that the more people can be assisted to appreciate and understand their own social behaviour, the more they can be assisted to develop a civilised, tolerant approach to human problems through greater self-analysis and the better and more healthy our society will be. We should all have a basic grasp of the elementary principle of evolution and our consequent close relationship with the rest of the animal kingdom; in some instances not close enough, for some animals seem manifestly more capable of conducting themselves sociably than many human beings.
We should have a shrewd idea as to why we react to various situations and stimuli in the way we do. It is vital to appreciate the intensely strong and irresistible demands imposed upon our sub-conscious by instinct, which so radically affects our behaviour patterns, and to understand the conflicting dictates of human rationality. By appreciating some of these things there is perhaps a chance that more people will begin to see world events and problems in a different way and to interpret history in the light of human behavioural problems.
I managed to locate my old examination papers from the archaeology and anthropology tripos at Cambridge in the Library at Windsor and looking through them for the first time I came across my supervision report in Social Anthropology - "He writes useful and thoughtful essays, although sometimes they are a little rushed. He is interested in discussion - likes to draw parallels between the peoples we study and ourselves." What a shrewd supervisor I had! But I think it helps to illustrate the useful application of anthropology to modern existence.
Reason number two is that an acquaintance with anthropology can enable those who never have a chance to leave this island, see other countries and witness the lives of their inhabitants, to understand something of the problems and difficulties experienced by immigrant communities in Great Britain. The more it is possible for this sort of enlightenment to spread, the more likely are we to reach a level of civilised tolerance in a multi-racial society. It should also be an aim to see that potential immigrants receive advance warning of the anthropological situation in this country and of what to expect, when they arrive in a state of bewilderment and anticipation.
Reason number three is that it is essential that we should know something about social groupings and patterns of behaviour in underdeveloped, underprivileged parts of the world so that the right forms of aid and development can be applied to them. In other words, ensuring that aid is given at first, in tune with the traditional customs and patterns of subsistence of the people concerned, and that this is then followed by more advanced techniques of farming and husbandry.
Having outlined some of the reasons for expanding the study of anthropology, how do we achieve this? First of all, anthropology must be made to seem less obscure and specialised to the general public. Certainly the Royal Anthropological Institute is a profoundly erudite body, but such topics as those which appear in 'Man', the journal of the Institute, are not calculated to cause a rush to the bookstalls, or the classrooms for that matter. In September's issue there were articles under splendid titles such as 'Tribalism and the polyethnic rural community' or 'An evolutionary interpretation of congenital frontal sinus absence in the Wadi Halfa mesolithic population'. And then there was an article which could easily cause a flutter in the hearts of any true born liberationist - 'Sexual insult and female militancy'. Only the last is likely to inspire any interest outside the fellows of this august body? probably amongst the police.
Secondly, with so many of you resident in or involved with both Oxford and Cambridge you should attempt to encourage the inclusion of anthropology in the 'O' and 'A' level syllabus and thereby reach a future important group of people while they are still with reasonably open minds at school.
Thirdly, more can probably be achieved by well-made films than by almost anything else and attempts will and are being made to pursue this important aspect of public relations. I am sure that the representatives of television here tonight will appreciate the problem and may be able to help."