HOCART, Arthur Maurice

HOCART, Arthur Maurice. Etterbeek near Brussels, Belgium 26.4.1883 — Cairo 9.3.1939. British scholar of Sri Lankan Archaeology and Ethnology. Son of James H., a Protestan missionary in Belgium, educated in Brussels and Guernsey, where the family originated. Graduated 1906 from Oxford (Exeter College) in classics, then studied philosophy and psychology in Berlin. In 1908–09 participated in W. H. R. Rivers’ ethnological expedition to the Solomon Islands, in 1912–14 Graduate Research Scholar of Exeter College and Jesus College for Pacific Studies in Oxford, traveled in western Polynesia. In 1915 Reader in Mental Philosophy at Oxford. During the war served 1915-19 as captain in army intelligence in France. In 1919-20 studied Sanskrit, Pāli, Tamil and Sinhalese. Archaeological Commissioner of Ceylon from 1921, retired 1929 because of health problems. In 1931-34 Honorary Lecturer in Ethnology at London Uni­versity College, from 1934 Professor of Sociology at Cairo. In Egypt suffered of poor health and died of an infection. Married 1930 Elizabeth Graham Hearn.

In Ceylon Hocart developed the connection between cultural anthropology and archaeology, founded and edited the Ceylon Journal of Science, and started the publication of the Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of Ceylon. As archaeologist he was much interested in architecture and concentrated on the urgent task of the conservation of ancient monuments. His importance as anthropologist was only understood long after his death.

Publications: Early writings on Pacific anthropology.

Articles in JRAS-CB, e.g. “Tantrimalai”, 29:76, 1923, 112-124.

The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. 8+42 p. 47 ill. on pl. A.S.C. Mem. 4. L. 1931.

– “The Basis of Caste”, AO 14, 1936, 203-223.

Les Castes. 8+12+274 p. A.M.G. Bibl. de vulg. 54. P. 1938 (transl. from manuscript by E. J. Lévy and J. Auboyer), English version Caste. A comparative study. 16+156 p. L. 1950.

– The Life-Giving Myth and Other Essays. Ed. by Lord Raglan. 13+252 p. L. 1970.

Wrote on Buddhism, also much on general anthropology (often in JRAI and Man).

Sources: XE.E. Evans-Pritchard, Man 39, 1939, 131 (FILED) & photo on p. 146; Godakumbura 1969, 23f.; *Ceylon Journal of Science 34, 1938, 264-268; Ch.D. Laughlin in www.berose.fr/article1262.html?lang=fr with many further references; *R. Needham, A Bibliography of A.M.H. (1883-1939). 57 p. Oxford 1967; Wikipedia.

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