Interview of Paul Hockings by Alan Macfarlane 11th November 2005

0:05:07 Introduction: born 1935 near Haileybury College with its East India Company connections; father was an engineer and also a county cricketer for Hertfordshire; his grandmother was Jewish and grandfather a Protestant; father became a choirboy in Westminster Abbey and sent to good Christian school; mother's father was Irish, probably Catholic, her mother, Protestant; mother brought up as Anglican but sent to a convent school; only two relatives travelled outside England, an uncle who became the British Consul in Syria and a great-uncle who was a camel driver in Central Australia

3:09:01 Grew up in Hampshire; at age nine became interested in pre-history and museums; no encouragement at school but after the war went to the reopened Basingstoke Museum and met G.W. Willis, the Curator and founder; with his help developed detailed knowledge of the area; also helped by near neighbour, the Duke of Wellington; first job was as a warden in the Basingstoke Museum at age fifteen; went to Queen Mary's Grammar School where the natural historian Gilbert White had been a pupil; went with Willis to Selbourne

7:33:11 Father as an engineer was personal assistant to Henry Royce founder of Rolls Royce; during war designed landing equipment for 'D Day'; when nearly fifty father decided to emigrate to Australia and I went too; went to Sydney University to study near-eastern archaeology; university had two totally separate departments of archaeology and anthropology; did a major in each subject from 1952; aware that there were more jobs in anthropology in Australia but decided to go to North America

11:15:09 Main teacher at Sydney was A.P. Elkin; department started by Radcliffe-Brown in 1925 with money from the Rockefeller Foundation; 1930 Raymond Firth followed and when he left for London Elkin took over; I had been at High School in Australia for about six months to qualify for a Commonwealth Scholarship and by coincidence the Principal had been a close friend of Elkin and backed me against my parents' idea that I should go to a teacher training college to study French; department still following Radcliffe-Brown and a little stultifying

13:55:07 While at Sydney, Robert Hughes, who became the art editor of Time Magazine, was one of the members of the Sydney Art Group with me; no art department at that time so thought up a series of lectures; embarrasment over the invitation to Sir Arthur Trendell the Vice-Chancellor of the University and Professor of Greek and classical archaeology to speak on classical art; Aldous Huxley at Berkeley; Ruth St Denis, founder of modern dance

17:05:20 For various reasons decided to leave Sydney and went to New Zealand where I worked at a script writer, journalist and wool-classer in Auckland, but more importantly took part in the excavation of the landing site of the first moah hunters; next went to Vancouver and worked briefly in the University of British Columbia Museum; also worked as a script writer and journalist; hitch-hiked across Canada in mid-winter ending up in Toronto; took a job at the university library; talked with Tom Mcllwraith probably the first professional anthropologist in Canada and chairman of the department; taken on as graduate student and teaching assistant; should take two years but could be done in eight months by writing three papers a week which I did for an M.A.; Mcllwraith had studied under Haddon and Rivers in Cambridge; good teachers including Ronald Cohen

21:16:07 Applied to Harvard, Wisconsin and Berkeley; favourable response from all three but Washburn at Berkeley offered a job as a teaching assistant; at that time J.K. Galbraith had described Berkeley as argueably the best university in the world ; did degree at Berkeley but also studied under Milton Singer at Chicago and got to know Sol Tax; also spent a year at Stamford where I met Srinivas; at Berkeley was first assigned as teaching assistant to T.D. McCown, the physical anthropologist; also taking courses with David Mandelbaum as I was interested in India; became his research assistant; in 1961 he was involved in setting up the American Institute of Indian Studies and I was the first beneficiary of a field research grant in 1962

27:03:01 Went to the Nilgiris where the Badagas had never been studied; got Ph.D. on this research; fieldwork went very smoothly; started by looking at land records; Mandelbaum had given me a useful introduction to a peasant farmer named Desin, a Badaga, who had helped him in the 1930's as an interpreter; Desin had also worked with Emeneau, another Berkeley scholar, so Desin happy to work with me; fantastic informant, very bright man who was invited to attend Madras University but prevented from so doing by his grandmother; he worked with me for three hours every morning for nine months; his English was so good that was the language we used; problem of one informant dealt with by doing a social survey on 6-700 people throughout the Nilgiris; as they were not just Badagas there was a problem of five languages so trained college students as interviewers and did survey with them over a period of about six weeks; brought back the material to Stamford where the answers were coded and processed on an early IBM 7090 computer in 1965; had no job and Mandelbaum did not help; Srinivas at Stamford introduced me to Walter Goldschmidt who invited me to U.C.L.A. as an assistant professor

36:02:23 Social survey data processed but not much used until the late 1990's when I decided I wanted to do a book about demography; had been doing a longitudonal study of four villages in the Nilgiri Hills, all Badaga villages; had take a full census every nine years over a twenty-seven year period; recorded a demographic transition at the mid-point when women decided to adopt birth control; noted that the standard of living went up, number of children born lower than in Japan, so not reproducing themselves; problem of using old punch cards as there were no card reading machines but had had the forethought to have the cards put onto computer tape and was found to be still readable; brought out a book 'Kindreds of the Earth' on the demographic modernization that I witnessed; moral of this story also applies to film and whether it will be readable in fifty year's time

43:40:12 Aldous Huxley at Berkeley; Ruth St Denis, founder of modern dance

48:37:05 Had two main interests in anthropology - South India and film; among other books wrote dictionary of Badaga language with

Christiane Pilot-Raichoor; had been a script writer for  television in Sydney and had shot some 16mm film in India while doing fieldwork; Colin Young launched ethnographic documentary production program at U.C.L.A Film School; Richard Hawkins in charge but I was the anthropologist; taught for a couple of years together;

52:49:00 Mark McCarty and I unhappy with documentary commentaries so decided to make a film in a language neither knew with no commentary; chose most difficult language, gaelic in Dunquin, west of Ireland; Blasket Islands three miles offshore which had been documented by Peig Sayers, Tomás Ó Criomhthain and Muiris Ó Súillibheáin so didn't have to write an ethnography; we made a film called 'The Village' which is still in distibution and this year went into DVD

1:02:07:20 In 1969 made a career move as MGM studios needed an anthropologist to make a special film for NBC television called 'The Man Hunters' on recent research into the origins of mankind;  by good fortune many paleological sites were being re-excavated; filmed in South Africa, Israel and France; film reached a massive audience

1:04:43:10 Moved to University of Illinois to set up a similar program on film in anthropology; Chicago an interesting place to be; friendship with Sol Tax; in 1973 in charge of the film program for Ninth World Congress in anthropology in Chicago; Mouton had agreed to publish the proceedings; Sol Tax got them to agree to publish a series on World Anthropology which did not have to rely on Congess papers; given an opportunity to publish a book on Visual Anthropology and able to gather articles from Jean Rouch, Robert Gardner, Ason Balikci, John Marshall and others; Margaret Mead wrote the opening chapter; book did very well and has been translated and is still in print

1:11:36:04 Wrote several books on South Indian cultures and edited others; 1990's three huge editing projects; asked by Mel Ember to edit the South Asian volume of Encyclopedia of World Cultures; followed with the South East Asian volume for the same; more recently South Asia editor Encyclopedia of Modern Asia; then Jay Ruby relinquished editorship of journal Visual Anthropology and I took over; film-makers not necessarily good writers, an exception is David McDougall; to maintain the standard widened the area of focus to theatre, circuses, rock art, archaeology etc.

1:16:47:07 Recently have become Professor Emeritus from University of Illinois and now am teaching in Hong Kong; have become first English Dean of an Chinese university for over sixty years - Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities in a brand-new college in Zhuhai next to Macao run jointly by Hong Kong Baptist University and Beijing Normal University which we hope with give quality education entirely in English for Chinese students; after four years hope to develop a graduate program and a film production program

1:18:05:19 Of all the anthropologist I have known Robert Murphy and Ronald Cohen were outstanding; Mandelbaum was very good on caste theory; also had a close relationship with Louis Dumont as I was one of the translators of his book on ideologies; regret I never had a chance to study with him; like the French ethnographers including Marie-Louise Reiniche  who directed the series on Tiruvannamalai; also close to Francis Zimmerman as I had written a book on medical anthropology of the Badagas

1:21:46:17 Our work on 'The Village' became known as observational cinema; a few years later Ireland joined the Common Market and the economy boomed; Dunquin became a tourist town; when we filmed there it was poor and sad, full of old people who had never married; our film turned out to be the last serious documentary on a peasant society; still a bartering society; anthropological film-makers

1:25:46:09 Now working in Yunnan; full of foreign students; very welcoming and no political restrictions; ten year's ago could go into villages with red flag flying in the middle; no longer see this except on Government buildings; a couple of years ago in a village near Kunming found the Party Headquarters was like an archaeological site; the mayor was prepared to answer any questions without even asking who I was; talked with a good friend from television in Lijiang about the Dalai Lama who did indicate that it was better not to discuss him because the media does work under restrictions, but not ordinary people; for many years there were huge tracts of China that were closed to foreigners and C.I.A. and other intelligence organizations thought things were being hidden; I have been through some of these areas and the problem was that nowhere was there a western-style toilet so the Province was closed to prevent tourists from suffering bad toilets

1:30:42:01 Heard Jiddu Krishna Murty speak in Sydney when a student there; he had been picked out by Annie Besant as the new Messiah but had later rejected Theosophy; spent his life wandering round the world talking to people; a great guide for the twentieth century and possible this century.