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Hugh Brody (born 1943) is a British anthropologist, writer, director and lecturer.


In the 1950s he worked as an accountant in Sheffield before passing the entrance examinations for the University of Oxford.[1] He studied at Trinity College, Oxford.


He taught social philosophy at Queen's University Belfast.[2] He is an Honorary Associate of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, and an Associate of the School for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto.[3] He held the Canada Research Chair at University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, British Columbia from 2004 to 2018.[4] He is Honorary Professor of Anthropology at the University of Kent, Canterbury.


In the 1960s, as a graduate student at Oxford, Brody was influenced by Maurice O'Sullivan's book Fiche Blian ag Fás (Twenty Years a-Growing), and worked as an anthropologist in Ireland. This led to his book Inishkillane, Change And Decline in the West of Ireland. The field-work for this study took him to Connemara and West Cork, where he lived and worked with peasant farmers, fishermen and as a barman in a village bar. Contracted by Raidió Teilifís Éireann he spent time on Gola Island, off the coast of County Donegal, research that led to his contribution to the book Gola, The Life and Last Days of an Island Community, co-authored with F. H. A. Aalen.[5]

In 1969, he did his first Canadian work, supported by the Northern Science Research Group at what was then the Canadian Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. This took him to the skid row area of Edmonton, Alberta in the Canadian Prairies. His report on that work, Indians on Skid Row, published in 1970, led to changes in government policy, especially in relation to Native Friendship Centres – crucial in giving support to Native people adrift in Canadian cities.[6]

In the 1970s, as a research officer with the Northern Science Research Group, he did extensive field work in the Arctic, living with Inuit in the communities of Pond Inlet on Baffin Island and Sanikiluaq on the Belcher Islands.[7] He learned two dialects of Inuktitut, North Baffin and South Hudson Bay, and wrote The People's Land, Inuit and Whites in the Eastern Arctic. This is a book that looks at how colonial relations, through the history of the fur trade, church missions and the Canadian government, have shaped the social and psychological circumstances of the far north. The argument and descriptions focus very much on a particular time in a particular place, but resonate with parallel experiences among indigenous peoples around the world. In the course of his work with the Northern Science Research Group, Brody also developed an innovative program that aimed to give new levels of support for families who wanted to live on the land. Brody was also one of those who in the mid-1970s first urged within the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs the idea of the separation of the Canadian north into two indigenous jurisdictions, with that of the east becoming an Inuit political territory. This came into being with the creation of Nunavut in 1999.

In 1975, Brody resigned from his position in the Canadian Civil Service. He was then based at the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, where he became an Honorary Associate. In 1976–1978 he worked on the Inuit Land Use and Occupancy Project, in the Northwest Territories, where he was co-ordinator for the land use mapping carried out in the North Baffin region. He also assembled an Arctic-wide account of Inuit perceptions of land occupancy, building a collage of Inuit voices from all the communities of the Northwest Territories.[8] He later worked on a similar project with Inuit and settlers of Labrador, which was published in Our Footsteps Are Everywhere (1978).[9]

In 1977, Brody was a witness to the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, giving evidence on the nature of northern development, alcohol abuse and Inuit languages.[10] He then became a member of Justice Thomas R. Berger's staff, helping to prepare the two volume report that set out the remarkable conclusions of the inquiry.[11]

In the 1980s, working for the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, Brody lived and worked with the Dunne-za and Cree of northeast British Columbia – the project and experiences that led to his book Maps And Dreams. This account of anthropological research and cultural mapping with a hunting community, and especially the laying of frontier development onto the ways Dunne-za and Cree see and understand their territories, became a classic of indigenous studies. Its use of alternating chapters, switching between first person narrative and social scientific writing has also given it a significant place in the history of the literature of anthropology.[7][12]

Brody worked with Justice Berger again in 1991–1992 as a member of the World Bank's Morse Commission, which had the job of assessing implications of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, a vast hydro and irrigation project in western India.[13] His role in public inquiries and assessment of the impact of large scale developments on indigenous communities continued when he became Chairman of the Snake River Independent Review. This was a mediation between the Idaho Power Company and the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho in relation to the building of the hydro dams on the Snake River in the 1950s.[14]

Since 1997, Brody has worked on projects in southern Africa. This began when he helped co-ordinate background research for the ‡Khomani San Land Claim in South Africa's southern Kalahari. This work led to filming many aspects of the claim, including its aftermath. In 2008, accompanied by the Canadian cinematographer Kirk Tougas, he filmed the beneficiaries of the claim as they reflected upon how it had changed their lives in the nine years since the claim was accepted. Working with the UK NGO Open Channels, and funded by the UK charity Comic Relief, Brody also led projects with and for San in Namibia and Botswana. The film work in South Africa led to the DVD Tracks Across Sand[15] – four and a half hours of film edited by long-term collaborator Haida Paul shot in the course of land claims research, oral history and language research in the northern Cape of South Africa.[16][17]


As a writer, Brody has published many essays and a collection of short stories, as well as his non-fiction books. His collection of stories, Means of Escape, was praised by Doris Lessing: "I recommend these tales to all connoisseurs of the short story, for they are unique in flavour and style, altogether unusual, and will stay in my memory like elegiac and lyrical songs or poems. Beautiful." The Canadian writer M. T. Kelly described the collection as "Intense, deeply felt, charged fiction...A masterful accomplishment".[18] Brody has also written a number of screenplays, one of which, co-authored with Michael Ignatieff, became the film Nineteen Nineteen.[19]

Canadian philosopher George Woodcock described Maps and Dreams (1981) as "an impressive attempt to dispel popular errors about peoples whom anthropologists used condescendingly to call 'primitive hunters'. Brody is also seeking to prove that hunting economies can continue to be viable even in modern North America, and that the way of life associated with them is worth preserving."[20]

In 2000, Brody published The Other Side of Eden: Hunter-Gatherers, Farmers and the Shaping of the World. This is a book that puts together experience of and thinking about many of the fields of travel and anthropology that have been at the centre of Brody's work. It looks at the relationship between culture and language, the way the agricultural way of life is at the core of the mythic ideas of human universality to be found in Genesis, and the way hunting cultures have been wrongly identified as nomadic – pointing out that it is agriculture, with its inherent tendency to produce surplus population and propensity for colonial expansion and warfare, that is the most mobile of ways of life. The Other Side of Eden takes a very wide view of history and cultures, yet is rooted in closely observed anthropology, much of it from Brody's own field experience.[21] A review in the New York Times termed it " an informed, passionate and enlightening volume…that adds new dimensions to our understanding of the diversity of human life.” [22] Stephen Osborne writing in Geist described it as  "a literary act: a work of deep imagination.  It shows us the way into the heart of North America, a place that has barely been glimpsed by our leaders, our intellectuals, ourselves.”[23]

Brody also wrote an article in 2020, ‘Beginning with Ireland’, in which he revisits his work in the West of Ireland, going back to both personal and methodological narratives, and seeing the roads that led from villages in rural Ireland to communities in the high Arctic and the Kalahari.


In 1975, Brody's filmmaking began with his work for ITV's series Disappearing World, going with director Michael Grigsby to the Inuit community of Pond Inlet, where they made the film The People's Land, Eskimos of Pond Inlet.[24] This led to Brody directing documentaries, first in Canada (working with First Nations in many parts of the country), as well as in the UK and Australia. These include the award-winning Hunters And Bombers, a film that follows the Innu resistance to low level flying in Labrador from CFB Goose Bay.[25] He also made On Indian Land,[26] a film with the Gitksan and Wet'suwet'en of northern British Columbia, and Time Immemorial, the opening film in the series As Long As The Rivers Flow.[27]

His film The Washing of Tears made with the Mowachaht-Muchalaht people of Gold River, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is an exploration of how one community looked to their fractured heritage to deal with extremes of dispossession and grief.[28]

Hugh Brody and Michael Ignatieff's screenplay 1919 was filmed in 1983 and released in 1984. It explores history, memory and the place of psycho-analysis in an understanding of both the self and the 20th century. John Berger, in his introduction to the Faber and Faber edition of the screenplay, wrote: "Nineteen Nineteen speaks directly to what we know about life, composed inextricably of the most intimate movements of the heart, accident, and the remorseless movement of history." Philip French, reviewing the film for London's Observer observed: "With Nineteen Nineteen, cinema's relationship to psychoanalysis has come of age. This is the first great film about the subject." The film's cast included Paul Scofield, Maria Schell, Diana Quick, Clare Higgins and the young Colin Firth.[29]

Brody's films for British television include England's Henry Moore, a project that was conceived by writer and political commentator Anthony Barnett. It explores Barnett's exposition of the links between Moore's work and the place of Britain in the world. In 2002–2003 Brody made Inside Australia, a journey with Antony Gormley into the Australian western desert to follow the installation of one of Gormley's most notable pieces of work.[30]

In 2005–2008, Brody made a film in a prison in British Columbia, The Meaning of Life,[31] in which he explores the use of aboriginal culture as a means of rehabilitation. At the centre of this film are accounts that inmates give of their lives and attempts at rehabilitation.[32] In 2012, he finished work on a 4-hour DVD, Tracks Across Sand, which shows in 17 segments the results of filming with the ‡Khomani San as they develop and then cope with their 1999 land claim.[33]

In 2014, a large collection of materials gathered from the projects with the ‡Khomani San was deposited with the University of Cape Town Libraries and can be viewed on the digital collections website.[34]

In 2017-18 worked with his son Tomo Brody on a set of films shot by Tomo in the Jungle refugee camp in Calais including Human After All: Voices from Calais

In 2018-19 worked with Tomo Brody on Crimes Against Children, a film about the impacts of boarding schools on Adivasi/Tribal children in India.[35][4]

Personal life

Brody is married to the actress Juliet Stevenson; they have two children.[36] He also had two sons with his former partner, the dancer Miranda Tufnell.

BBC interview

In 2023 Brody was the guest on BBC Radio 3's Private Passions.[1]





Nominations, awards, and honours


  1. ^ a b "Hugh Brody". BBC.
  2. ^ Wroe, Nicholas (27 January 2001). "The People's Champion". The Guardian.
  3. ^ "Hugh Brody – Authors – Faber & Faber".
  4. ^ a b "University of the Fraser Valley: Research Chairs". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  5. ^ Inishkillane, first published by Allen Lane and the Penguin Press, 1973. Subsequent editions: Shocken, New York, 1974; Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver; Faber & Faber, London, Gola, published b y IRL:Mercier, Cork, 1969.
  6. ^ Indians on Skid Row was published by DIAND, Ottawa, 1971, as a report in its Northern Science Research Group series
  7. ^ a b The peoples' champion, The Guardian, profile, 27 January 2001.
  8. ^ See the three volume, Report of the Inuit Land Use and Occupancy Project, ed Milton Freeman, Ottawa: DIAND, 1976
  9. ^ See: Continuity and change: The Inuit settlers of Labrador. In C. Bryce-Bennett (Ed.), Our Footsteps Are Everywhere. Ottawa, ON: DIAND, 1978
  10. ^ Brody, Hugh (2009). "Eskimo: A language with a future?". Polar Record. 18 (117): 587–592. doi:10.1017/S003224740000125X. S2CID 128744840.
  11. ^ See Northern Homeland, Northern Frontier, The Report of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, first published as a Canadian government report in 1978, and then as a book by Douglas & MacIntyre, Vancouver, 1987.
  12. ^ See Google Books reviews. Maps And Dreams was first published by Dougas & MacIntyre, Vancouver, and Norman and Hobhouse, UK, 1981. It has been in print since, in several editions and translations. Douglas & MacIntyre published an edition with a new introduction (1988). Faber & Faber, London, have published it in paperback.
  13. ^ See Sardar Sarovar, the Report of the Independent Review, first published by Resource Futures International, Ottawa, 1992. Also Berger's account of the Review: American University International Law Review, Volume 9, Issue 1, 1993,
  14. ^ See Michael Mirande, Sustainable Natural Resource Development, Legal Dispute, and Indigenous Peoples: Problem-Solving across Cultures, 11 TUL. ENVTL. L.J. 33, 44 (1997).
  15. ^ a b "Face to Face Media Films & Video".
  16. ^ Brody, Hugh (2013). "International Festival of Ethnographic Film". International Festival of Ethnographic Film.
  17. ^ Brody, Hugh (2012). "Tracks Across Sand". Documentary Educational Resources (DER).
  18. ^ Published by Faber & Faber, London, and Douglas & MacIntyre, Vancouver, 1985. Quotes from jacket of paperback editions.
  19. ^ The Screenplay for Nineteen Nineteen was published by Faber and Faber, London, in 1985. John Berger wrote an afterword, included in the Faber and Faber edition.
  20. ^ Woodcock, George (20 May 1982). "Dreams of Fair Game". London Review of Books. 4 (9): 19.
  21. ^ The Other Side of Eden: Hunter-gatheres, Farmers and the Shaping of the World was first published by Douglas and MacIntyre, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Faber and Faber, London, in 2000. Subsequent editions and translations have paperback UK and Canada; hardback, Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 2001), as well Chinese, Japanese and Dutch editions
  22. ^ Bernstein, Richard (9 May 2010). ""Civilization on Ice: Hunters of the North"". New York Times, Books of the Times: 10 (Section E).
  23. ^ Osborne, Stephen (2000). "Deep In North America". Geist. 39 (Winter 2000): 32–39.
  25. ^ Brody, Hugh; Markham, Nigel (1991). "Hunters and Bombers".
  26. ^ Brody, Hugh (1986). "On Indian land : Gitksan & Wet'suwet'en Territory (Northwest British Columbia)". University of Wisconsin Libraries.
  27. ^ Brody, Hugh (2014). "Time Immemorial". As Long as the Rivers Flow.
  28. ^ For NFB information about The Washing of Tears, see: The Washing of Tears
  29. ^ Brody, Hugh (1984). "Nineteen Nineteen". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 9 March 2016.
  30. ^ Brody, Hugh (2018). "Hugh Brody | Screening of Inside Australia with Q&A". Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
  31. ^ Brody, Hugh (8 July 2022). "The Meaning of Life". IMDB.
  32. ^ Brody, Hugh (8 July 2022). "The Meaning of Life".
  33. ^ Brody, Hugh (8 July 2022). "Tracks Across Sand". Face to Face Media.
  34. ^ Brody, Hugh (14 March 2016). "Rare ‡Khomani San Archive Tells a Story of Fragility".
  35. ^ Brody, Hugh; Brody, Tomo (2019). "Factory Schools Destroying Indigenous People in the Name of Education". Survival International.
  36. ^ "Juliet Stevenson: 'I'd much rather live a useful life than be rich'". The Independent. 22 May 2011.
  37. ^ "Face to Face Media Films & Video".
  38. ^ Brody, Hugh (1976). Freeman, Milton (ed.). "Inuit Land Use and Occupancy and Inummarit, The Real People". Inuit Land Use and Occupancy Report. Ottawa: Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND). 1 & 2.
  39. ^ Brody, Hugh (1977). "Industrial Impact in the Canadian North". Polar Record. 18 (115): 333. Bibcode:1977PoRec..18..333B. doi:10.1017/S0032247400000589. S2CID 129308132.
  40. ^ Brody, Hugh (1977). "Eskimo: A Language With a Future?". Polar Record. Cambridge. 18 (117): 587. Bibcode:1977PoRec..18..587B. doi:10.1017/S003224740000125X. S2CID 128744840.
  41. ^ Brody, Hugh (1978). Bryce-Bennett, Carol (ed.). "Continuity and Change: The Inuit and Settlers of Labrador". Our Footsteps Are Everywhere. Ottawa: Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
  42. ^ Brody, Hugh. "Alcohol". Études Inuit (in French). Quebec: Laval. 1.
  43. ^ Brody, Hugh (1983). "Jim's Journey". Granta. 10.
  44. ^ Brody, Hugh (1987). "On Indian Land: The Gitksan-Wet'suwet'en". New Catalyst. British Columbia.
  45. ^ Brody, Hugh; Fiegehen, Gary (1991). "Stikine, the Great River, an Introduction". Stikine, the Great River. Douglas & McIntyre.
  46. ^ Brody, Hugh; King, JCH; Lidchi, Henrietta (1998). "The Power of the Image". Imaging the Arctic. London: British Museum.
  47. ^ Brody, Hugh (1998). Barnett, Anthony; Scruton, Roger (eds.). "Nomads And Settlers". Town and Country. London: Jonathon Cape.
  48. ^ Brody, Hugh (1999). "Taking the Words from their Mouths". Index on Censorship. 4: 42–47.
  49. ^ Brody, Hugh (2000). "Introduction to Seasons of the Arctic photographs by Paul Nicklen". Seasons of the Arctic Photographs by Paul Nicklen. Toronto, Vancouver: Greystone Books: xv–xxv.
  50. ^ Wachtel, Eleanor (Fall 2001). "In Conversation with Hugh Brody". Brick (68): 22–27.
  51. ^ Brody, Hugh (February 2002). "Atanarjuat – the fast runner", a discussion of Zacharias Kunuk's film". openDemocracy.
  52. ^ Brody, Hugh (2005). "Inside Lake Ballard – in Antony Gormley's Inside Australia". Inside Australia. London: Thames and Hudson: 18–53.
  53. ^ Brody, Hugh (2007). Foreword to Robert Semeniuk's Among the Inuit. Vancouver: Raincoast Books.
  54. ^ Brody, Hugh (2008). Robinson, Gillian (ed.). "Without Stories We Are Lost". The Journals of Knud Rasmussen. Canada: Isuma Productions.
  55. ^ Brody, Hugh (2008). "Stations of Life, an essay about inequality". Resurgence.
  56. ^ Brody, Hugh (2010). ""The anthropology of ourselves" in Antony Gormley's One And Other: The Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square". London. Thames and Hudson.
  57. ^ Brody, Hugh (October 2010). "Gaddafi and the Tuareg". OpenDemocracy.
  58. ^ Brody, Hugh (1 November 2011). "1 December 1961:Fly the Flag of Independence". OpenDemocracy.
  59. ^ Brody, Hugh (2015). "'Permanence and Transition – Anthropological Perspectives'". Irish Journal of Anthropology. 18 (1).
  60. ^ Brody, Hugh (2015). Woodsmoke and Leafcups, Autobiographical footnotes to the anthropology of the Durwa by the Indian botanical anthropologist Madhu Ramnath, foreword by Hugh Brody. Harper Litmus.
  61. ^ Brody, Hugh; Usher, Peter (2015). "Obituary of the late Jim Lotz". Arctic, Arctic Institute of North America. 68 (3). doi:10.14430/arctic4511.
  62. ^ Brody, Hugh (2018). 'Messages', in Antony Gormley: Field for the British Isles. London: Hayward Publishing. pp. 18–49.
  63. ^ Brody, Hugh (2019). "A Story of Arctic Maps". Ground Work: Writings on Places and People by Tim Dee. London: Vintager: 45–54.
  64. ^ Brody, Hugh (2019). MacDonald, John (ed.). "The People's Land—The Film, an essay in: 'The Hands' Measure: Essays Honouring Leah Aksaajuq Otak's Contribution to Arctic Science'". Nunavut Arctic College. Iqualuit.
  65. ^ Brody, Hugh (2021). Dieckmann, Ute (ed.). What were we mapping? From the Inuit Land Use and Occupancy Project to the Southern Kalahari'. In: Mapping the Unmappable? Cartographic Explorations with Indigenous Peoples in Africa. Columbia University Press. pp. 69–83.
  66. ^ Hugh Brody at the Internet Movie Database
  67. ^ "Berlinale: 1985 Programme". Retrieved 9 January 2011.