Graphical version

British Library of Political and Economic Science

GELLNER, Professor Ernest André, 1925-1995, philosopher and social anthropologist


Reference code(s): GB 0097 GELLNER

Held at: British Library of Political and Economic Science

Title: GELLNER, Professor Ernest André, 1925-1995, philosopher and social anthropologist

Date(s): [1946]-1996

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 84 boxes

Name of creator(s): Gellner | Ernest André | 1925-1995 | philosopher and social anthropologist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born 1925; educated Prague English Grammar School, St Albans County School, and Balliol Coll., Oxford University; Private, Czechoslovakian Armoured Brigade, BLA, 1944-45; on staff of London School of Economics, 1949-84, where he received a PhD in Social Anthropology, 1961, and became Professor of Philosophy, 1962-84; Visiting Fellow at Harvard, 1952-53; Co-editor of European Journal of Sociology, 1966-84, and Government and Opposition, 1980; Visiting Fellow, University of California, Berkeley, 1968; FBA, 1974; Visiting Fellow, Centre de Recherches et d'Études sur les Sociétés Méditerranéens, Aix-en-Provence, 1978-79; Member of the Council, Social Science Research Council (later Economic and Social Research Council), 1980-86 (Chairman, International Activities Committee, 1982-84); Member of Council, British Academy, 1981-84; Visiting Scholar, Institute of Advanced Studies, Tel Aviv University, 1982; William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology, Cambridge University, 1984-93; Professorial Fellow, 1984-1992, and Supernumerary Fellow, 1992-1995, King's College, Cambridge University; Honorary Fellow, LSE, 1986; Guest of Academy of Sciences of USSR, Moscow, 1988-89; Honorary Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1988; President, Royal Anthropological Institute, 1991-94; First President, Society for Moroccan Studies, 1990-[1995]; Tanner Lecturer, Harvard University, 1990; Member, American Philosophical Society, 1992; FRSA, 1992; Member, Academia Scientiarum et Artium Europaea, Salzburg, 1993; Resident Professor, and Director, Centre for Study of Nationalism, Central European University, Prague, 1993-[1995]; Visiting Lecturer, Center for European Studies, Harvard University, 1994; Erasmus Visiting Professor, Warsaw University, 1995; Member of Senate, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 1994-[1995]; Member, Editorial or Advisory Boards for the British Journal of Sociology, the American Journal of Sociology, Inquiry, Middle Eastern Studies, Journal of Peasant Studies, Society and Theory, Government and Opposition, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Cambridge Archaeological Journal, Journal of Mediterranean Studies, Third World Review, Nations and Nationalism, Anthropology and Archaeology of Eurasia, Sociological Papers, Moderniyzzazio e Sviluppo; died 1995.
Publications: Cause and meaning in the social sciences (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London 1973); Contemporary thought and politics (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1973); Legitimation of belief (Cambridge University Press, 1974); Options of belief (South Place Ethical Society, London, 1975); Saints of the Atlas (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1969); The devil in modern philosophy (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1974); Thought and change (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1964); Words and things: a critical account of linguistic philosophy and a study in ideology (Victor Gollancz, London, 1959); editor of Arabs and Berbers: from tribe to nation in North Africa (Duckworth, London, 1973); editor of Populism: its meanings and national characteristics (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1969); editor of The nature of human society (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1962); Language and solitude: Wittgenstein, Malinowski and the Hapsburg dilemma (Cambridge University Press, 1998); Nationalism (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1997); Encounters with nationalism (Blackwell, Oxford, 1994); Anthropology and politics: revolutions in the sacred grove (Blackwell, Oxford, 1995); Liberalism in modern times: essays in honour of José Merquior (Central European University Press, Budapest and London, 1996); Conditions of liberty: civil society and its rivals (Hamish Hamilton, London, 1994); The psychoanalytic movement: the cunning of unreason (Granada, London, 1985); Postmodernism, reason and religion (Routledge, New York and London,, 1992); Reason and culture: the historic role of rationality and rationalism (Blackwell, Oxford, 1992); The concept of kinship, and other essays on anthropological method and explanation (Blackwell, Oxford, 1987); Nations and nationalism (Blackwell, Oxford, 1983); Culture, identity and politics (Cambridge University Press, 1987); Relativism and the social sciences (Cambridge University Press, 1979); Spectacles and predicaments: essays in social theory (Cambridge University Press, 1979); Muslim society (Cambridge University Press, 1981); Transition to modernity: essays on power, wealth and belief (Cambridge University Press, 1992); State and society in Soviet thought (Blackwell, Oxford, 1988); Plough, sword and book: the structure of human history (Collins Harvill, 1988); editor of Islamic dilemmas: reformers, nationalists and industrialisation (Mouton, Berlin, 1985); editor of Soviet and Western anthropology (Duckworth, London, 1980); editor of Patrons and clients in Mediterranean societies (Duckworth, London, 1977).


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Professor Ernest André Gellner, [1946]-1996, notably correspondence with friends and colleagues, [1946-1995], including Professor Sir Isaiah Berlin, Professor (Avram) Noam Chomsky, Professor Bernard Rowland Crick, Professor John Horsley Russell Davis, Professor Ralf Dahrendorf, Baron Dahrendorf of Clare Market, Professor Sir Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard, Professor Sir Raymond (William) Firth, Professor (Walter) Bryce Gallie, Sir Victor Gollancz, Professor John Rankine (Jack) Goody, Professor Richard Mervyn Hare, Professor Sir Edmund Ronald Leach, Professor Claude Lévi-Strauss, Anne Mary Lonsdale, Professor Alan Donald James Macfarlane, (Jean) Iris Murdoch, Professor Sir Karl (Raimund) Popper, Professor Hugh Redwald Trevor-Roper, Baron Dacre of Glanton, Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, Professor Gilbert Ryle, Professor Edward W Said, Charles Percy Snow, Baron Snow, George Soros, Professor Alfred Stepan, Professor (Ann) Marilyn Strathern, and Professor Sir Bernard Arthur Owen Williams; material relating to Gellner's teaching work at the London School of Economics and Cambridge University, 1977-1989, including individual files relating to his PhD students, 1977-1984, and correspondence with Macfarlane regarding the administration of the Anthropology Department at Cambridge, 1988-1989; papers created during Gellner's time as Director of the Centre for the Study of Nationalism at the central European University, 1992-1996, notably correspondence with students, material relating to conferences, Senate papers, documents concerning the financial future of the Centre, details of project funding and grant proposals, and correspondence relating to the Erasmus Chair at Warsaw University; material relating to field trips to Morocco, [1950-1968], probably in connection with Gellner's PhD thesis, including maps, manuscripts, correspondence, field notes, research notes, reports and photographs; manuscripts, 1957-1995, some with corrections, of Gellner's published books and articles, as well as unpublished material, on subjects including anthropology, Islam, social science, nationalism, politics and religion, imperialism, Marxism, the London School of Economics, philosophy, history, culture, psychoanalysis, Eastern Europe, and Russia; offprints and newspaper cuttings of reviews of Gellner's work, 1957-1995, and reviews written by Gellner concerning the work of others, 1960-1995; papers relating to the publishing of books, [1957-1996], including proofs, contracts with publishers, and correspondence; tapes and films, 1982-1990, mainly comprising lectures on philosophy by Gellner; obituaries and papers relating to the memorial service in Prague, 1995.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:


Conditions governing access:

Apply to Archivist.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright retained by the Gellner family.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

Temporary list available.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

The Gellner papers were given by the family in May 1996, February and November 1997, March 1999, and May 2000. Material relating to the Central European University was transported from Prague by Gaye Woolven in November 1998. Papers relating to Gellner's students were given by the LSE Philosophy Department, via Professor Watkins, in December 1996.

Immediate source of acquisition:


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

The BLPES holds further material relating to Ernest Gellner in Coll Misc 0606, the papers of Charles Anthony Raven Crosland (Ref: Crosland/10/3), the papers of Professor Morris Ginsberg (Ref: Ginsberg/7/12), the papers of Professor Imre Lakatos (Ref: Lakatos/13/314 and 14/10), the papers of Professor Michael Joseph Oakeshott, and the papers of Dr Audrey Isabel Richards (Ref: Richards/16/26).

McMaster University Library, Ontario, Canada, holds correspondence between Gellner and Bertrand Russell, 1958-1964 (Ref: Russell Archives).

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Sources:British Library of Political and Economic Science catalogue; Who's Who 1897-1996 (A & C Black, 1996); British Library On-Line Public Access Catalogue 97; Historical Manuscripts Commission National Register of Archives. Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Oct 2000

Imperialism | Political doctrines
Islam | Ancient religions | Religions
Marxism | Political doctrines
Nationalism | Political doctrines
Politics | Political science

Personal names
Berlin | Sir | Isaiah | 1909-1997 | Knight | philosopher and historian of ideas
Chomsky | Avram Noam | b 1928 | US linguistic philosopher, educator, and political activist
Crick | Bernard Rowland | b 1929 | Professor of Politics
Dahrendorf | Ralf Gustav | b 1929 | Baron Dahrendorf of Clare Market | Professor | sociologist
Davis | John Horsley Russell | b 1938 | social anthropologist
Firth | Sir | Raymond William | 1901-2002 | Knight | anthropologist
Gallie | Walter Bryce | 1912-1998 | philosopher
Gellner | Ernest André | 1925-1995 | philosopher and social anthropologist
Gollancz | Sir | Victor | 1893-1967 | Knight | publisher
Goody | John Rankine | b 1919 | anthropologist x Goody | Jack
Hare | Richard Mervyn | b 1919 | philosopher
Leach | Sir | Edmund Ronald | 1910-1989 | Knight | social anthropologist
Lonsdale | Anne Mary | b 1941 | Secretary General of the Central European University
Macfarlane | Alan Donald James | b 1941 | historian and anthropologist
Murdoch | Dame | Jean Iris | 1919-1999 | author x Murdoch | Iris
Popper | Sir | Karl Raimund | 1902-1994 | Knight | philosopher
Pritchard | Sir | Edward Evan | Evans- | 1902-1973 | Knight | social anthropologist x Evans-Pritchard | Sir | Edward Evan
Roper | Hugh Redwald | Trevor- | 1914-2003 | 1st Baron Dacre of Glanton | historian and controversialist x Trevor-Roper | Hugh Redwald x Dacre of Glanton | 1st Baron
Russell | Bertrand Arthur William | 1872-1970 | 3rd Earl Russell | philosopher and social reformer x Russell | 3rd Earl
Ryle | Gilbert | 1900-1976 | philosopher
Said | Edward W | b 1935 | Professor of English
Snow | Charles Percy | 1905-1980 | Baron Snow | novelist and physicist x Snow | C P
Soros | George | b 1930 | US financier and philanthropist
Stepan | Alfred | b 1936 | political scientist
Strathern | Ann Marilyn | b 1941 | social anthropologist
Strauss | Claude | Lévi- | b 1908 | anthropologist x Lévi-Strauss | Claude x Levi-Strauss | Claude
Williams | Sir | Bernard Arthur Owen | b 1929 | Knight | philosopher

Corporate names
Centre for the Study of Nationalism | Prague
LSE | London School of Economics and Political Science x London School of Economics and Political Science
University of Cambridge | Anthropology Department
Warsaw University

Czech Republic | Eastern Europe
Morocco | North Africa
Prague | Czechoslovakia | Eastern Europe
Russia | Eastern Europe
Crimea x Krym