Dr. Allen R. Maxwell, professor emeritus of anthropology, died Nov. 16, 2011, at his home at the age of 71. Part of Maxwell’s estate was bequeathed to The University of Alabama to establish the Allen R. Maxwell Endowed Anthropology Scholarship. The scholarship is designated for graduate students in the Department of Anthropology.
Maxwell retired from UA in 2010 after 36 years with the Department of Anthropology. He continued to teach courses in linguistic and cultural anthropology after his retirement. Maxwell was recognized at UA for raising the national profile of the Department of Anthropology, beginning with a major revision of the anthropology curriculum when he joined the faculty in 1974.
Maxwell, known to friends and colleagues as Max, was born in Hanover, N.H., and raised in Massachusetts. He earned a BA in anthropology from the University of Michigan in 1969 and a year later completed a master’s in linguistics from the same institution. He was awarded a doctorate from Yale in 1980.
During his years at UA, Maxwell published more than 80 scholarly articles or book chapters and gave 68 major conference presentations. His work as an ethnographer and linguist centered on the peoples of Borneo, especially Brunei and Sarawak. A consummate ethnographic fieldworker, he enjoyed an international reputation for the depth of his understanding of Borneo’s many cultures.
As a teacher, Maxwell was known for his detailed and comprehensive approach to instruction. Dr. Michael Murphy, chair of the Department of Anthropology, said Maxwell’s enthusiasm for anthropology and linguistics endeared him to his colleagues and to generations of UA students.