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Peter Worsleys studies at Cambridge were interrupted by war service as a communist officer in the colonial forces in Africa and India, and it was here that he developed a keen interest in anthropology. He work in mass education in Tanganyika and then studied with Max Gluckman at Manchester University. Banned from re-entering Africa, Worsley went to Australia where he was banned once more, this time from New Guinea, yet he did succeed in completing field-research for his Ph.D. on an Australian Aboriginal tribe.
His subsequent book on Cargo cults in Melanesia is now regarded as a classic, but his left-wing politics ensured that he could not get a job in anthropology, so he switched to sociology, on his return to Manchester.