Daniel Biebuyck was born in 1925 in Deinze, Belgium. He studied classical philology, law and cultural anthropology, and African art at Ghent State University, and social anthropology and Bantu Linguistics at University College London, LSE, SOAS.
Under the auspices of the Institut pour la Recherche Scientifique en Afrique central (IRSAC), he was involved in field research from 1949–1961 among ethnic groups in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo: the Lega, Bembe, Zyoba, and Nyanga peoples. Biebuyck was repeatedly initiated to the various grades of the Bwami association of the Lega, Pembe, and Nyiundu peoples. Most of what is known about the Lega (general culture, Bwami association, and artworks) is due to his field studies between 1951 and 1953, in 1954 and in 1957, and his subsequent publications. As a member of the land tenure commission for the Belgian Congo (1957–1961), he conducted brief field research among over forty different populations where he studied questions pertaining to the relationships between sociopolitical structures, administrative interferences, and land tenure.
In 1989, Biebuyck retired from the University of Delaware as H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Anthropology and the Humanities.
1949 – 1957 Research Fellow in the Congo Republic under the auspices of IRSAC (Institut pour la recherche scientifique en Afrique centrale). During this period, he engaged for eight years in prolonged periods of fieldwork in the Congo Republic
1953 – 1954 Teaching courses on Anthropology and Africa at école Coloniale, Brussels, French and Flemish sections, replacing Professor A. Maesen as Professor of Anthropology.
1956 – 1958 Part-time Maître de Conférences (Visiting Lecturer), Liège University (Belgium).
1957 – 1961 Two years Associate Professor and two years Full Professor at the then University of Lovanium (Kinshasa, Congo).
1960 Visiting Professor, London University, University College.
1961 – 1964 Visiting Professor (1 year), Professor (1 year), H. Rodney Sharp Professor (1 year) at the University of Delaware.
1964 – 1966 Professor of Anthropology, at the University of California, Los Angeles.
1965 – 1966 Curator of African Art Collections, University of California, Los Angeles.
1966 – 1974 H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Anthropology, University of Delaware.
1968 – 1969 Fall: Visiting Lecturer of the History of Art and of Anthropology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
1969 – 1972 Chair and Creator of the Department of Anthropology, University of Delaware.
1969 – 1970 Fall: Visiting Professor of Anthropology, Yale University.
1970 – 1971 Interim Director of Black Studies and Chair, Black Studies Task Force, University of Delaware.
1971 – 1972 Spring: Adjunct Professor of Anthropology, New York University, New York
1974 – 1975 Acting Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of Delaware.
1976 – 1977 Fall: Visiting Lecturer of the History of Art, Yale University
1974 – 1989 H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Anthropology and Humanities, University of Delaware
1989 (September) Retired from the University of Delaware
1993 – 1995 Arthur Golding Eminent Scholar in African Art, University of Southern Florida, Tampa, Fl.
Sample of Courses Taught: General Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, Social Anthropology, Humanistic Anthropology. African Cultures, African art, African values and systems of thought. World Ethnography, Ethnography of Central Africa. The Primitive Arts, Primitive Art and Oral Literature, Art and the Anthropology of Art. Central African Ethnography: Peoples of the Congo.
- Spoken and read: Dutch, French, German, English
- Spoken: Swahili, Bembe, Lega, Nyanga (Bantu languages used in field research; I have published oral texts collected and annotated by me in the field in Bembe, Lega, and Nyanga)
- Read: Greek, Latin
- Lecturing ability: Dutch, French, English