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About the Foundation

Wenner-Gren Mission

The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Inc. is a private operating foundation that is committed to the advancement of anthropology throughout the world. Through various programs supporting research, conferences, fellowships, networking and publication, the Foundation is dedicated to engagement with anthropological disciplines focusing on human origins, development, and variation.


The Foundation

The Foundation was founded in 1941 by Axel Wenner-Gren as the Viking Fund, Inc. Its name was changed to the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Inc., on its 10th anniversary in 1951. A short history of the Foundation can be found here.

Since its beginning, the Foundation nurtured the discipline of anthropology and has been a leader in its continuing development. In the early years, this was achieved through focused research and funding programs, numerous symposia, workshops and other meetings, the production of educational materials through AnthroCast (1959-1976), and an active publication program including the Viking Fund Publications in Anthropology (1942-1979), and the journal Current Anthropology (founded in 1959).

As the field grew and developed, the Foundation also changed, establishing a strong identity that focused on the internationalism of anthropology and on its broad-based nature, encompassing sociocultural, biological and linguistic anthropology together with archaeology. The Foundation also developed a commitment to special research needs not met by other funding sources and strengthened its emphasis on innovation and leadership in the discipline.

In addition to its Board of Trustees, the Foundation has an Advisory Council comprised of seven senior international anthropologists who give guidance on program development and leadership initiatives in the field. It also has over 60 consultants who provide constructive feedback to all applicants and insure that the research that is funded is of the highest quality.

The modern Wenner-Gren Foundation is a private operating foundation directly involved in nurturing and supporting research excellence in anthropology and in the dissemination of the results of this research. The Foundation’s programs are oriented towards three major goals, and although several programs serve more than one goal, the primary functions of the Foundation’s  major programs are:

  1. To further promising research developments across the anthropological spectrum
  2. To develop a world community of research anthropologists
  3. To provide leadership at the forefronts of anthropology
    • Wenner-Gren Symposia and other Foundation-administered meetings to provide a forum for scholars to meet and discuss cutting-edge developments in the discipline.
    • Initiatives Program to provide a means to support innovation in the field that falls outside of the regular funding programs.

Over the years, the Foundation has also supported the establishment of major anthropological associations (e.g. the European Association of Social Anthropology, the Pan-African Anthropological Association) and currently has a leadership role in the World Council of Anthropological Associations, which it also helped to establish.