Professor Karin Barber has been recognised in the 2021 New Year Honours. The anthropologist — who specialises in Yorùbá language and culture — was appointed DBE in recognition of her pioneering work on African cultures and languages.
“This honour was a complete surprise. I was amazed”, the Centennial Professor of Anthropology reacted. “It feels like an overcoat several sizes too big for me.”
Professor Barber added that working on African cultures was “enough of a reward in itself” and that learning from her African colleagues had been “a lifelong joy.”
“I regard the appointment as honouring everyone who promotes understanding of African culture.”
The Africanist anthropologist earned her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Cambridge and UCL before undertaking a PhD at Ọbafẹmi Awolọwọ University, in Nigeria. Before joining LSE, she taught for over 30 years at the University of Birmingham’s Department of African Studies and Anthropology.
In 2018, Professor Barber received the Distinguished Africanist Award of the African Studies Association. In 2019, she was awarded the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award of the Royal Anthropological Institute.
While she is “delighted” to have her contributions recognised by the Queen, Professor Barber wishes the award’s name — Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire — would change.
“A military-sounding title harking back to the British Empire is at odds with any progressive vision of Britain in the world today,” she argued.
Alumni honoured include:
Paul Amadi, MSc (Econ) Politics and Government of W. Europe 1994, MBE for charitable services.
Stephen Kwasi Bediako, MSc Public Policy and Administration 2004, OBE for services to innovation in the charitable sector, particularly during the Covid-19 response.
Alan J. Burnell, MSc (Econ) Voluntary Sector Organisation 1990, OBE for services to adopted children.
Dr Anna L. Dixon, MPhil/PhD Social Administration 2007, MBE for services to wellbeing in later life.
Gemma C. Harper, MSc (Econ) Social Psychology 1993 and MPhil/PhD Research Psychology 1998, OBE for services to the marine environment.
Denise M. Hunt, LLM 1986, MBE for services to the hospitality sector and community in Carnlough.
Fozia Irfan, LLB 1996, OBE for services to the community in Bedfordshire, particularly during the Covid-19 response.
Emmi R. Poteliakhoff, MPA Public and Econ Policy 2007, MBE for services to the NHS particularly during the Covid-19 response.
Richard A. Ross, BSc (Econ) Accounting and Finance 1964, CBE for services to philanthropy during Covid-19.