Tom Harrison – The prototype Colonel Kurtz

Here’s one for the Sussex Alumni: The BBC have just broadcast a documentary that celebrated the life of the anthropologist Tom Harrison. Before the second world war he had travelled extensivley in Borneo, and began to create the cultural immersion approach to anthropology. This knowledge was harnessed by SOE (Special Operations Executive) who recruited Tom to lead a contingent of Australian soldiers, who parachuted deep behind enemy lines in the interior of Borneo. Tom encouraged his soldiers to live like the indigenous tribes, whom he recruited to the Allied cause, and re-started the head-hunting tradition by paying a bounty of five guilders for each head of a Japanese soldier. His troops had rather mixed views of this, as did most of his contempories in anthropology, archeology or whatever else took his interest. His final academic appointment was at Sussex University in the 1970’s.

~ by @mmonyte on January 20, 2007.

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