Rivers, William

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Rivers, William


Born Mar. 12, 1864, in Luton, Kent; died June 4, 1922, in Cambridge. English ethnographer. Member of the Royal Society of London (1908).

Rivers studied the islanders of Torres Strait (1898), the Toda in southern India (1901–02), and the Melanesians (1908). He made significant contributions to the study of kinship relations in a preclass society. He was an evolutionist in his early works but later (in 1914) became a diffusionist. Rivers explained the distinctive features of the social structures and cultures of the peoples of Oceania as the results of the interactions of many successive migration waves.


The Todas. London-New York, 1906.
The History of Melanesian Society, vols. 1–2. Cambridge, 1914.
Social Organisation, 3rd ed. London-New York, 1932.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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