Cunningham, Clark E. (1934-) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Cunningham, Clark E. (1934-)

Historical Note:

Clark Edward Cunningham (1934-2020) was visiting assistant professor (1963-64), associate professor (1968-72), department head (1972-74), professor (1972-95), and professor emeritus (1995-2020) at the UIUC Department of Anthropology. His wide-ranging research interests were focused on Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and Thailand. Notably, he was a founding member of the Asian Studies Department at UIUC and was the first at UIUC to teach a course on Asian American experiences.

Cunningham was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on March 13, 1934. He earned a B.A. from Yale University in 1957. As a Rhodes scholar, he earned a B.Litt. (1959) and a D. Phil. (1963) from Oxford University. He began as visiting assistant professor at UIUC in 1963 and, over the course of his career, he conducted ethnographic research in Indonesia, Thailand, and the United States. During the 1960s, Cunningham worked as a consultant for the US Agency for International Developmentâ??s Bureau of the Far East (1965-68). And, as associate professor of anthropology and preventive medicine and community health at UIUC, he was assigned to the faculty of medicine at Chiang Mai Hospital, Thailand, for the US Agency for International Development (1968-70).

Cunningham's range of academic interests included "social structure and culture change, medical anthropology, symbolism, traditional architecture, religion, ethnicity and minority problems, migration, â?¦ and the growth of social sciences in developing nations" (UIUC Department of Anthropology). Working within these areas of scholarly research at UIUC, Cunningham developed and taught courses such as Medical Anthropology; Social Structure, Peoples and Cultures of Insular Southeast Asia; Southeast Asian Civilizations (with F. K. Lehman); Religion in Asian Societies; and Indonesian language. His publications include "Indonesian American Experience: History and Culture" in Asian American History and Culture: An Encyclopedia (2009) and "Unity and Diversity among Indonesian Migrants to the United States" in Emerging Voices: The Experiences of Underrepresented Asian Americans (2008). Cunningham actively contributed to the UIUC's Spurlock Museum of World Cultures in Urbana, Illinois, serving as visiting curator, president (2008-09), and trustee.

Cunningham had two children, Eric and Nathalie, with his first wife, food anthropologist Annie Hubert. He was married to second wife Aulikki Kokko-Cunningham, a professor of medicine at UIUC, from 1969 until her death in 2017. Cunningham died on April 8, 2020.


"Clark Cunningham,� News Gazette, April 26, 2020, accessed January 11, 2021,

"Clark E Cunningham," Department of Anthropology, accessed April 21, 2020,

"Spurlock Museum Advisory Board," Spurlock Museum of World Cultures at Illinois, accessed April 21, 2002,

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