Henry Noel Cochrane Stevenson Myanmar

Biography of Henry Noel Cochrane Stevenson

Henry Noel Cochrane Stevenson, known as Noel, was a lecturer in Social Anthropology from 1950-1957.

Born in Rangoon in November 1903, he was sent to school in Scotland and then Dulwich College near London, sometimes travelling home for the holidays. Family circumstances changed abruptly in 1920, so he was not able to complete school nor to go to a university. After managing two plantations in Burma, in 1929 he began to work for the frontier civil service of Burma, and while on leave in 1937 was allowed to attend anthropology classes with Bronislaw Malinowski at the LSE. That stimulus led to his writing a well-recognized book in economic anthropology (Economics of the Central Chin Tribes, 1944), published while he was organizing guerrilla warfare against Japanese troops in northern Burma. He also published booklets on the lives of non-Burmese groups Burma, such as the Chin and Kachin.

Stevenson returned to the UK in February 1947, and prior to his appointment, the University of Glasgow awarded him a special scholarship with a stipend of £750 for the academic year 1949/50 to develop his studies in Social Anthropology. He chose to study at the University of Oxford, and upon receiving favourable reports and recommendations from his Oxford tutors, Stevenson was appointed as the University's first lecturer in Social Anthroplogy, starting 1st October 1950.

He was awarded the Curl Prize for the best essay written by a member of the RAI in social anthropology written in 1953; this was published in full in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute in January 1954. It was a result of his BLitt work at Oxford, and interestingly was not about the Central Chin in Burma, but about the caste system of India.

He left the post of lecturer on 30th September 1957 to accept an appointment with the Independent Television Authority.

A personal memoir of the period 1920-1948, by Stevenson, called Singing in the Rain, has been deposited in 2014 in the British Library by Professor Robert Anderson, with the permission of Noel Stevenson’s family. Some notes used in this biography were prepared by Professor Robert Anderson of Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. He is preparing a book about anthropologists and guerrilla warfare in northern Burma, in which Noel Stevenson will appear a number of times.


Henry Noel Cochrane Stevenson

Born November 1903.
Died 28 May 1984.
GU Degree:
University Link: Lecturer
Occupation categories: anthropologists; social anthropologists
NNAF Reference: P244697
View Major Archive Collection Record
Additional Information: Sources: Court minutes C1/1/56-58, C1/1/67; Bio in 'The New Scientist', 13 June 1957, vol 2 no 30; further information supplied by Prof Robert Anderson, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.
Record last updated: 16th Nov 2015

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Myanmar Myanmar, No Region

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University Roles

  • Lecturer