Archive | Obituaries

In Memory of Gill Conquest

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Gill Conquest on May 5, 2017.

Gill was an exceptional student and an exceptional person. Her interests were broad-ranging, extending well beyond the academic through performances of traditional stories and pantomimes, to writing plays and science fiction, sailing and playing games, and to music and dancing, all alongside her passionate commitment to developing the interfaces of technology and citizenship to support cultural and ecological diversity. She brought a sense of wonder and fun to all of her activities, embracing new experiences and opportunities at every chance with good humour and enthusiasm.

Gill joined the anthropology department as a Masters student in Anthropology, Environment and Development in 2011. Her masters’ dissertation examined the potential of new technologies to support environmental justice movements lead by indigenous peoples.

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Cyclone Pam – Support Vanuatu

Haidy Geismar, UCL

As I’m sure you are all aware, last week Vanuatu was devastated by Cyclone Pam, battering the country with winds of over 270 mph. The storm knocked out the country’s telecommunications and transport infrastructure and now, just a few days later, it is estimated that more then 70% of the population are left homeless, without adequate drinking water, and without food. The long term prospects for food security are also bad as most of the garden crops that people live off have been destroyed. President Baldwin Lonsdale has announced that the storm had “wiped out” recent development and that “everything” would have to be rebuilt.

Vanuatu is the place that I have worked as an anthropologist since 2000.…

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Jacques Le Goff [1924-2014]

Born on January 1st 1924 in Toulon, historian Jacques Le Goff has died on 1 April in Paris aged 90. He took up a teaching position and eventually headed up the Paris based School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS). He was one of the main proponents of ‘New History’, inspiring a shift in historical research from an emphasis on political figureheads and mata-events to social memory and historical anthropology.

le GoffThroughout a long career in higher education and public broadcasting, Le Goff transformed views of the Middle Ages from a dark and backward time to a period that set the building blocks for modern Western civilisation.

Outside the lofty towers of academia, Le Goff hosted a weekly history programme on the public radio station France Culture.

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Yuri Vella’s celebrated at Tartu World Film Festival

The University of Tartu has recently hosted its XI annual Maailma World Festival of Documentary Film (March 15-22). The event opened with a session to honour the career of the Siberian filmmaker, reindeer herder and environmentalist Yuri Vella [1948-2013] In memoriam: Filming and Being Filmed.


The festival session dedicated to Vella’s memory included documentary tributes from his closest filmmaker friends — those who have been on his camps numerous times and whom he called whenever he needed a camera. Olga Kornienko lived not very far from Yuri’s place and specialises in filming the native people of the Khanty-Mansi area. Vella often asked her to be present at some of the significant moments in his life in order to record it.…

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Stuart Hall [1932-2014]


Recent obituaries for the late doyen of cultural studies, who also greatly influenced material culture studies, Professor Stuart Hall, have appeared in the Jamaica Observer and the Guardian.

A founding member of the New Left Review, Professor Hall is probably best known in the UK as an inaugural member of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University when, in 1964, he accepted the invitation of its Director Professor Richard Hoggart to join as the Centre’s first research fellow. Hall himself became Director of CCCS a few years later in 1968.

Born in Kingston Jamaica, Hall fled for the UK in 1951 to take up a Rhodes scholars fellowship at Merton College, University of Oxford. He famously abandoned his thesis on Henry James to become an activist in London and during a CND march in 1964, met what would become his life long partner, historian Catherine Barrett.…

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RIP Arthur C. Danto

Arthur C. Danto, a provocative and influential philosopher and critic who championed Andy Warhol and other avant-garde artists and upended the study of art history by declaring that the history of art was over, has died. He was 89. Danto, an art critic for the Nation magazine from 1984 to 2009 and a professor emeritus at Columbia University, died of heart failure Friday at his Manhattan apartment, his daughter Ginger Danto said. An academically trained philosopher, Danto became as central to debates about art in the 1960s and after as critic Clement Greenberg had been during the previous generation. Danto was initially troubled, then inspired by the rise of pop art and how artists such as Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein could transform a comic strip or a soup can into something displayed in a museum, a work of “art.” Starting in the ’60s, he wrote hundreds of essays that often returned to the most philosophical question: What exactly is art?

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Igor Kopytoff [1930-2013]

A number of prominent anthropologists have passed away in recent weeks, perhaps most notably, George W. Stocking [July 13th, aged 85], Keith Basso [Aug. 4th, aged 73] and Igor Kopytoff on August 9th.

With his major contribution ‘The cultural biography of things: commoditization as process’, in Arjun Appadurai’s groundbreaking The Social Life of Things (CUP, 1986) Kopytoff in particular deserves special recognition on this blog. Based at the University of Pennsylvania for over 50 years, his field research as an Africanist was truly wide ranging, with interests in economic anthropology, cultural property, religion and political culture. He was a  Consulting Curator in the African Section of the University’s Museum.

Amongst his numerous achievements and accolades, he acted as a Consultant to President Kennedy’s Task Force on the Congo in 1961; was Associate Editor of American Anthropologist from 1966‑70; and was Visiting Professor at the University of Montreal over the year 1983‑84.…

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The Peter Loizos Memorial Lecture

Being Between: Thinking with Peter Loizos’ Legacy

Dr Rebecca Bryant

Friday 8 March 2013 at 6.30 p.m. London School of Economics

European Institute, Lecture Room 1, Ground floor, Tower 1, Clements’ Inn, London WC2A 2AE

Chaired by Dr Jonathan Parry, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the London School of Economics, and Peter Loizos’ colleague and friend.

Throughout his career, Peter Loizos articulated discomfort with his role as a Cypriot ‘insider’ who was expected, as an anthropologist, to behave like an ‘outsider’. He expressed this in numerous ways, from his sensitive photographic and cinematographic studies, which aimed primarily to document a time and place that would soon be lost, to later essays and interviews in which he discussed the limits of engagement with and disengagement from the field.…

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RIP Aaron Swartz

Here Aaron Swartz and Taryn Simon discuss a collaboration that they undertook for the New Museum last year in which they created a visualization showing the cultural specificity and partiality of google image search.The piece was called Image Atlas.

via Seven on Seven 2012: Aaron Swartz and Taryn Simon on Vimeo.

Editor’s note: the vimeo clip no longer seems to be loading directly from the site in this posting but you can watch the clip here:

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Neil Smith: 1954-2012

Originally published in the on October 2, 2012

Neil Smith: A Passionate Scholar and Socialist

Bill Roberts, a founding member of the ISO, and Hector Agredano, a doctoral student at the CUNY Graduate Center, remember the life of a determined activist.

Neil Smith, the renowned scholar, beloved teacher and devoted activist, died on September 29 at the age of 58.

Neil is best known for his academic work. He was a professor of anthropology and geography at City University of New York. In particular, his writings on the patterns of social development in cities–drawing on history, economics, political and social theory, and ecological studies–are among the most prominent left- wing views on the subject.

But Neil will also be remembered as a committed socialist and activist.…

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