Obituary: Dr Janet Bagg

bagg-headerDr. Janet Bagg passed away on June 11th 2016 after a long illness, at the age of 59.

Janet was born on December 12th, 1956. She gained her BA Archaeology from University of Wales, Cardiff, in 1979. After graduating, she worked on excavations, historic buildings surveys and as a researcher for Canterbury Museum. She married Dr. Nick Ryan in 1993, although they had been together since her fresher year at Cardiff where they met in the first week of term. She survived Nick by a year. Her funeral will be on 12th August, 2016 at the Barham Crematorium. A memorial event at Kent will be scheduled in the Autumn.

Janet was a stalwart in the School of Anthropology and Conservation and its many predecessors, beginning in 1986, when she became the first person enrolled in the School’s then new Ph.D. programme in Applied Computing and Anthropology. She contributed to many research projects within the School, applying her unique talents combining history, archaeology and anthropology with computing science, not just to solve problems, but often to address these in groundbreaking ways, improving outcomes beyond what could otherwise be expected.

As a member of the Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing she had her own research portfolio, initially focusing on historical anthropology with work in East Kent on 17th century social demography, and then to communities in Corsica, where she combined historical and contemporary ethnographic research. She was the principle investigator for three projects funded by the ESRC and the AHRC, and a co-investigator or named researcher on twelve additional funded projects by the EU, Leverhulme, Nuffield, ESRC, AHRC, MRC, NERC and the British Academy. Her role in these projects was not simply technical; she injected expertise at the boundaries of what was possible to bear on each one of these. Altogether she contributed to about ten million pounds of funded research in the School over her career,  perhaps treble that value in today’s rather more imaginative accounting.

Janet made a number of other contributions to the School and to her discipline. She taught on modules in the School and in Computing, and was a member of the Faculty Research Committee from 1990 to 2014, representing Research Fellows in the Faculty. From 1998 to 2014 Janet developed web-based applications and support software fundamental to rescuing the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Anthropological Index Online from failure. She contributed to the success of the Ethnographics Gallery (, the first Anthropological website initiated in 1994 and the first registered digital serial by the British Library. Janet was also important in the national consortium led by Kent that resulted in the teaching resource ERA: Experience Rich Anthropology (

Although impacted by the changes that diminished the research capacity of the School, in the final decade of her career Janet made what were possibly her most important contributions, including GROK: Genealogical Relations of Knowledge, an e-science project funded by the ESRC and the EPSRC, whose technology is being implemented by the Human Relations Area Files at Yale ( and the Complex Social Science Gateway (UC Irivine,, the Cook Islands Biodiversity and Ethnobiological Database (, Kinsources (University of Paris, and the iWild project.

Janet will be greatly missed in the School, but her achievements will live on and continue to benefit the School and her discipline.


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