List of Famous Anthropologists

List of famous anthropologists, with photos, bios, and other information when available. Who are the top anthropologists in the world? This includes the most prominent anthropologists, living and dead, both in America and abroad. This list of notable anthropologists is ordered by their level of prominence, and can be sorted for various bits of information, such as where these historic anthropologists were born and what their nationality is. The people on this list are from different countries, but what they all have in common is that they're all renowned anthropologists.

This list contains people like Yvette Mimieux and Dian Fossey. Featuring foreign anthropologists, linguistic anthropologists, cultural anthropologists, and more, this list has it all. 

From reputable, prominent, and well known anthropologists to the lesser known anthropologists of today, these are some of the best professionals in the anthropologist field. If you want to answer the questions, "Who are the most famous anthropologists ever?" and "What are the names of famous anthropologists?" then you're in the right place. 
Ranked by
  • Yvette Carmen Mimieux (January 8, 1942 – January 18, 2022) was an American television and film actress. She is perhaps known best for her breakout role in The Time Machine (1960). She was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards during her acting career.
  • Dian Fossey (; January 16, 1932 – c. December 26, 1985) was an American primatologist and conservationist known for undertaking an extensive study of mountain gorilla groups from 1966 until her 1985 murder. She studied them daily in the mountain forests of Rwanda, initially encouraged to work there by paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey. Gorillas in the Mist, a book published two years before her death, is Fossey's account of her scientific study of the gorillas at Karisoke Research Center and prior career. It was adapted into a 1988 film of the same name.Fossey was one of the foremost primatologists in the world, a member of the so-called "Trimates", a group formed of prominent female scientists originally sent by Leakey to study great apes in their natural environments, along with Jane Goodall who studied chimpanzees, and Birutė Galdikas, who studied orangutans. During her time in Rwanda, she actively supported conservation efforts, strongly opposed poaching and tourism in wildlife habitats, and made more people acknowledge sapient gorillas. Fossey and her gorillas were victims of mobbing; and, she was brutally murdered in her cabin at a remote camp in Rwanda in December 1985. It has been theorized that her murder was linked to her conservation efforts, probably by a poacher.
  • Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 – January 28, 1960) was an influential author of African-American literature, anthropologist, and filmmaker, who portrayed racial struggles in the early-20th-century American South, and published research on Haitian Vodou. The most popular of her four novels is Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937. She also wrote more than 50 short stories, plays, and essays. Hurston was born in Notasulga, Alabama, and moved with her family to Eatonville, Florida, in 1894. She later used Eatonville as the setting for many of her stories. It is now the site of the Zora! Festival, held each year in her honor.In her early career, Hurston conducted anthropological and ethnographic research while a student at Barnard College and Columbia University. She had an interest in African-American and Caribbean folklore, and how these contributed to the community's identity. She also wrote fiction about contemporary issues in the black community and became a central figure of the Harlem Renaissance. Her short satires, drawing from the African-American experience and racial division, were published in anthologies such as The New Negro and Fire!! After moving back to Florida, Hurston wrote and published her literary anthropology on African-American folklore in North Florida, Mules and Men (1935), and her first three novels: Jonah's Gourd Vine (1934); Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937); and Moses, Man of the Mountain (1939). Also published during this time was Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica (1938), documenting her research on rituals in Jamaica and Haiti. Hurston's works concerned both the African-American experience and her struggles as an African-American woman. Her novels went relatively unrecognized by the literary world for decades. Interest was revived in 1975 after author Alice Walker published an article, "In Search of Zora Neale Hurston", in the March issue of Ms. magazine that year. Hurston's manuscript Every Tongue Got to Confess, a collection of folktales gathered in the 1920s, was published posthumously in 2001 after being discovered in the Smithsonian archives. Her nonfiction book Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo", about the life of Cudjoe Lewis (Kossola), was published posthumously in 2018.
  • Carlos Castaneda (December 25, 1925–April 27, 1998) was an American author. Starting with The Teachings of Don Juan in 1968, Castaneda wrote a series of books that describe his training in shamanism, particularly with a group whose lineage descended from the Toltecs. The books, narrated in the first person, relate his experiences under the tutelage of a man that Castaneda claimed was a Yaqui "Man of Knowledge" named don Juan Matus. His 12 books have sold more than 28 million copies in 17 languages. Critics have suggested that they are works of fiction; supporters claim the books are either true or at least valuable works of philosophy. Castaneda withdrew from public view in 1973, living in a large house in Westwood, California from 1973 until his death in 1998, with three colleagues whom he called "Fellow Travellers of Awareness." He founded Cleargreen, an organization that promotes "Tensegrity", which Castaneda described as the modern version of the "magical passes" of the shamans of ancient Mexico.
  • Margaret Mead (December 16, 1901 – November 15, 1978) was an American cultural anthropologist who featured frequently as an author and speaker in the mass media during the 1960s and 1970s. She earned her bachelor's degree at Barnard College in New York City and her MA and PhD degrees from Columbia University. Mead served as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1975.Mead was a communicator of anthropology in modern American and Western culture and was often controversial as an academic. Her reports detailing the attitudes towards sex in South Pacific and Southeast Asian traditional cultures influenced the 1960s sexual revolution. She was a proponent of broadening sexual conventions within a context of traditional Western religious life.
  • Florinda Donner (originally Regine Margarita Thal, later Florinda Donner-Grau) is an American writer and anthropologist known as one of Carlos Castaneda's "witches" (the term for three women who were friends of Castaneda). She studied anthropology at UCLA but did not complete her degree, letting her graduate studies lapse in 1977, after having advanced to doctoral candidacy. While studying she met Castaneda and worked with him on developing his thinking. In addition to working on Castaneda's books, she has written several books about indigenous healing, sorcery and lucid dreaming.