Gillian Feeley-Harnik is a professor emertia in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her areas of ethnographic and archival research include Madagascar (since 1971), the United States (since 1994) and Great Britain (since 1998). She is also interested in the history and anthropology of the Bible and biblically inspired religions in the Jewish and Christian diasporas and beyond. Her research in these areas has been published in many articles and books, including A Green Estate: Restoring Independence in Madagascar (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991), The Lord's Table: The Meaning of Food in Early Judaism and Christianity (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2nd ed., 1994), and two books in progress: comparative studies of Charles Darwin and Lewis Henry Morgan, their kin and co-workers, focusing on popular ideas and practices concerning kinship and ecology, religion and science. These are tentatively entitled: "The Art of Propagating Life: Charles Darwin and the Pigeon-Breeders of London” and "Lewis Henry Morgan and the American Beaver." This current work is based mainly on archival research in Great Britain and the U.S., but includes some ethnographic work in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (and some forays into the work of British missionary-botanists in Madagascar). Morgan, Darwin's American contemporary, was the founder of the comparative study of kinship, and through kinship, the founder of anthropology in the U.S. Both Darwin and Morgan argued that "descent is the hidden bond of connection" linking all forms of life (Darwin's words). Both drew on biblical language to articulate social, biological, and moral concerns they hoped to resolve through science. The goal of the research is to illuminate how people grasp the "mystery of life" in their everyday social practices, in reckoning who is kin to them, how they are connected to other creatures living and dead, and how popular practices of kinship and ecology in nineteenth-century Great Britain and America contributed to the life sciences of biology and anthropology.
(Ph.D. New York 1976)