|Died||27 January 1983 (aged 76)|
|Known for||Tallensi and Ashanti|
|Academic advisors||Bronisław Malinowski|
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Originally trained in psychology, Fortes employed the notion of the "person" into his structural-functional analyses of kinship, the family, and ancestor worship setting a standard for studies on African social organization. His celebrated book, Oedipus and Job in West African Religion (1959), fused his two interests and set a standard for comparative ethnology. He also wrote extensively on issues of the first born, kingship, and divination.
Fortes received his anthropological training from Charles Gabriel Seligman at the London School of Economics. Fortes also trained with Bronisław Malinowski and Raymond Firth. Along with contemporaries A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, Sir Edmund Leach, Audrey Richards, and Lucy Mair, Fortes held strong functionalist views that insisted upon empirical evidence in order to generate analyses of society. His volume with E. E. Evans-Pritchard, African Political Systems (1940) established the principles of segmentation and balanced opposition, which were to become the hallmarks of African political anthropology. Despite his work in Francophone West Africa, Fortes' work on political systems was influential to other British anthropologists, especially Max Gluckman and played a role in shaping what became known as the Manchester school of social anthropology, which emphasized the problems of working in colonial Central Africa.
Fortes was President of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland from 1965–67 and recipient of the Institute's highest honour, the Huxley Memorial Medal in 1977.