Contact Us
Department of Anthropology
Bryn Mawr College
101 N. Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

Fax: 610-526-5655
Departmental News, Events & Links
Congratulations Class of 2013!!


Anthro seniors '13

anthropology seniors '13




Philip Kilbride Exhibit in Dalton Anthropology Gallery

Pictures of the Friday Symposium April 5th

Pictures of the Saturday Memorial Gathering  April 6th




- Symposium on African Anthropology in Honor of Philip Kilbride-


Diana Putman, USAID Mission Director for Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ph.D. 1985 Anthropology, Bryn Mawr College

Maria Catell, Ph.D. Anthropology 1989, Bryn Mawr College

Chapurukah Kusimba, Curator, Anthropology, Africa, Europe and the Near East, The Chicago Field Museum, Ph.D. Anthropology 1993, Bryn Mawr        College


SATURDAY, APRIL 6 - Memorial Celebration for Philip Kilbride, 3:00 - 5:00 p.m., Wyndham Ely Room, Bryn Mawr College




 --Letter from Jane Dammen McAuliffe 18 September 2013--

Dear Members of the Bryn Mawr Community,

Yesterday I wrote to share the sad news that Philip Kilbride, Professor of Anthropology, passed away on Saturday, 15 September 2012. Today I would like to convey the esteem of a few of Phil’s colleagues and to alert the community to some details about memorial and funeral arrangements.

Phil earned his B.S. at Millersville State College, an M.A. from Pennsylvania State University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. Phil came to Bryn Mawr in 1969 as a Lecturer of Anthropology and was appointed Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the following year. He served as chair of the department from 1977-1981 and in 1982 was promoted to the rank of Professor. Phil was the Mary Hale Chase Chair in the Social Sciences and Social Work and Social Research from 1996-2008 and served two more terms as department chair, 1995-2000 and 2004-2007. He served two terms as a member of the Committee on Appointments and was a founding member of the Bi-College Africana Studies Program. In spring 2008, Phil was a Visiting Fulbright Professor in the Department of Social Anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy, at the University of Pardubice in the Czech Republic.

At Bryn Mawr, Phil’s courses included offerings like Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, The History of Anthropological Theory, Childhood in the African Experience, and Cultural Perspectives on Ethnic Identity in the Post Famine Irish Diaspora. His teaching also ranged from first-year seminars to dissertation direction. He supervised ten Ph.D. theses and 11 master’s theses. Phil is the author of seven books, including the recently published second edition of Plural Marriage For Our Times: A Reinvented Option? Phil is the founder of and former academic advisor to the University of Nairobi Exchange Program, which has sponsored many Bryn Mawr students since its inception in 1996.

According to his colleague, Rick Davis in Anthropology, “Phil was an exceptional field worker in anthropology; he lived in Kenya and Uganda over many decades. He was broadly trained and was devoted to anthropology. He was always thinking of new projects and collaborations – almost all of which came to fruition and will be a lasting legacy. Most of all, we miss our friend and colleague, his bright optimism, generosity of spirit, and his engaging dialogues.”

Mary Osirim has characterized Phil as an inspiring friend and colleague: “As a dedicated Africanist anthropologist, Phil was a trailblazer in bringing African Studies to Bryn Mawr. Before we had the Africana Studies Program, he, along with Bob Washington, introduced students to the joys of conducting fieldwork in Kenya. He is one of the greatest champions of Africana Studies with whom I have ever had the pleasure of working. Building on his many years examining marriage and family in sub-Saharan Africa and the United States, his most recent edition of Plural Marriage for our Times is a path breaking comparative work that gives us much to consider as we strive to recognize and strengthen the diversity of family forms in the U.S. I already miss my many engaging conversations with him. It was an honor and a privilege to have known him.”

The chair of the Anthropology department, Melissa Pashigian, remembers Phil as a: “renowned scholar of plural marriage and a colleague with a generous spirit and keen mind, who never ceased to ask interesting questions about human behavior and culture. He was a pleasure to teach with, and had a talent for infusing humor into the classroom through vivid examples. A consummate fieldworker, Phil repeatedly returned to his field sites throughout his career and developed new projects, which came to fruition in his numerous publications. He will be dearly missed.”

Enrique Sacerio-Garí says: “Phil was my closest friend at the College. We walked and talked around campus and our neighborhoods for over thirty years. I will never forget our conversations, his sincere simplicity and thoughtful kindness, his wisdom. Together we considered and reconsidered our research, issues of cultural differences and the unity of humankind. We talked about our families, religion, politics and sports. Phil was a man of profound religious faith. Our last conversation, at Bryn Mawr Hospital, was about Obama, brotherhood, and the mystery of the Virgin of Guadalupe’s eyes.”

Phil is survived by his daughters, Candice M. Kilbride and Natalie Wagaki Kilbride, his son Roy Nderitu Kilbride, and his wife Marrion Wathuti Kilbride.

Family and friends will honor Phil at a Life Celebration on Thursday, 20 September, 7:00 – 9:00 pm at Boyd Horrox Funeral Home in Norristown and at a viewing and funeral mass on Friday, 21 September 2012, 9:30-10:20 and 10:30 am, respectively, at St. Francis of Assisi in Norristown.

Phil’s colleagues in Africana Studies and the College are planning an event in his honor for spring 2013.

Yours sincerely,

Jane McAuliffe


Professor Philip L. Kilbride came to Bryn Mawr in 1969 as a Lecturer in Anthropology.  He was just finishing his dissertation under the direction of Michael Robbins at the University of Missouri on “Individual Modernization and Pictoral Perception among the Baganda of Uganda.”  One year later he would be an Assistant Professor, eight years later Chair of the Department of Anthropology,  and soon after Professor of Anthropology. That was just the beginning.  Phil stayed at Bryn Mawr for his entire career, spanning more than four decades.  During that time, Phil earned many distinctions including the Mary Hale Chase Chair in the Social Sciences and Social Work and Social Research, a visiting Fulbright Professorship in Anthropology at the University of Pardubice in the Czech Republic, and serving as the Chair of the Anthropology Department for three separate terms.

Most of all, Phil stood out as a field worker in Anthropology.  Between 1966 and 2008, he made 28 separate trips for a total of 62 months in the field, primarily in Kenya but also with lengthy intervals in Uganda, the Czech Republic and Mexico.  This extensive field research commitment resulted in substantial publication and papers.  A total of nine books, forty-three articles and chapters, plus numerous reviews, papers and organized sessions at professional meetings, invited lectures, and media presentations stemmed from his work at home and abroad.

Phil’s early work was in psychological anthropology, and he pursued this focus with the Buganda on various aspects of child development.  Subsequently in Kenya, Phil continued to examine childhood and child development and then broadened his work to include studies on the family and modernization.  Later, he became known for his long term studies of street children and came to know many young children as they grew into adults on the streets of Nairobi.  Phil was interested in so many things:  he studied and published on the adoption of microtechnology by the Buganda, the cross cultural perceptions of the Ponzo Perspective Illusion, dreams and sleep disorders in Uganda, Polygyny  and Plural Marriage in Africa and the United States, and the Irish Diaspora to East Africa and elsewhere. It is important to emphasize his publication record here:  invariably Phil completed his research, wrote it up and submitted it so that it could be shared by all.

Although research was of such great importance to him, it is difficult to elevate it much above the energy and care he gave to teaching, departmental affairs and to the College.  It is hard to overstate how central Phil was to our curriculum and to the teaching mission of the department, as well as to various interdepartmental courses and programs.  Phil directed ten PhD theses and innumerable senior theses of our majors in anthropology.  He frequently co-taught with friends and colleagues from many departments including sociology, philosophy and economics.  He was a founding member of the Africana Studies Program and also contributed to the Center for International Studies.

Phil was generous with his time, energy and spirit.  He was devoted to his family, and he gave inordinately to his students and colleagues.  He was, without fail, inclusive, encouraging and full of ideas and possibilities of how we all could connect, see, and understand the enveloping social world surrounding us.  Phil’s untimely death at the beginning of the fall 2012 semester came as a great shock to us all.  His centrality to our lives at the College became devastatingly apparent. In the coming spring, early in April, we will come together for a memorial service.  Till then and afterwards we will endeavor to live and work closer while acutely feeling his absence but knowing his spirit.

Rick Davis    Department of Anthropology

American Anthropology News Obituary