Archive | Obituaries

Eric Hobsbawm dies, aged 95


Eric Hobsbawm dies, aged 95  (from the

Hobsbawm, a lifelong Marxist whose work influenced generations of historians and politicians, died in the early hours of Monday morning at the Royal Free Hospital in London after a long illness, his daughter Julia said. He was 95.

Hobsbawm’s four-volume history of the 19th and 20th centuries, spanning European history from the French revolution to the fall of the USSR, is acknowledged as among the defining works on the period.

Fellow historian Niall Ferguson called the quartet, from The Age of Revolution to 1994’s The Age of Extremes, “the best starting point I know for anyone who wishes to begin studying modern history”.

Hobsbawm was dubbed “Neil Kinnock’s guru” in the early 1990s, after criticising the Labour party for failing to keep step with social changes, and was regarded as influential in the birth of New Labour, though he later expressed disappointment with the government of Tony Blair.…

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Luc de Heusch (1927-2012)

The well known Belgian ethnographic film-maker Luc de Heusch started his career as a poet who was part of the CoBrA group (Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam). He later fell under the influence of Claude Lévi-Strauss as well as Marcel Griaule and Jean Rouch. He was professor of anthropology at the Free University of Brussels, where he taught for nearly forty years from (1955-1992).

Strongly anti-colonialist in his political views, he directed the ‘Laboratory of Belief Systems & African Thought’. From 1987 to 1991 he was president of the scientific council for the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren near Brussels and was also president of the Henri Storck Foundation. It is as a film assistant to H. Storck in the late 1940s that he learnt to make ethnographic documentaries. …

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William Rathje (1945-2012)

William L. Rathje (PhD Harvard 1971), professor emeritus of archaeology at the University of Arizona, studied rubbish as an insight into human behaviour. “The only way to know a person is by what they throw away”, he has repeatedly said. Jeff Harrison has written a comprehensive tribute for Univ. of Arizona News (see here).

When I was an undergraduate the Bruntland Report Our Common Future (1987, OUP) was high on the reading list of many courses and most of the world’s leaders had just come back from the Rio Summit. Agenda 21 was on everyone’s lips. It was a time when many of us really felt, perhaps naively, that global attitudes towards pollution and waste were actually changing.

At the time, one of my friends was doing his dissertation on junk mail and he proudly carried around one of his library finds, Rathje’s books, something with ‘Garbology’ in the title.…

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Peter Loizos

Sadly, on Friday night March 2nd, Peter Loizos died in London. He is survived by his wife Gill and three children. Professor Emeritus of anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Peter worked there from 1969 to 2002 and headed the department for a time. During the past six years he returned to teaching at the School of Oriental and African Studies, where he was an inspiration to numerous anthropology and film students until last year. He carried out long term research in Cyprus since the 1960s, made 4 films, edited many volumes and wrote several monographs.
Amongst his important contributions, readers of this blog will be familiar with the book Innovation in Ethnographic Film: From Innocence to Self-consciousness, 1955-1985.…

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Josep Llobera

Llobera.JPGStephen Nugent at Goldsmiths College has sadly announced the death of Josep R. Llobera. Born in Havana and brought up in Catalonia Josep had made Britain his home since 1969. He taught for many years in the Sociology Department at Goldsmiths and following his retirement was a Visiting Professor in the Anthropology Department at UCL, from which institution he took his Diploma in the early 1970s and a PhD in 1978.
Josep resisted pigeonholing for he had a broad view of anthropology and the human sciences. He was well known for his work on European nationalism, for his research in historical anthropology and for his enthusiasm for anthropology as a critical social science. He had many friends, strong opinions, and a rigorous and humorous approach to life.…

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In Memoriam – Peter Gathercole

Last month, one of our esteemed colleagues – Peter Gathercole – passed away, aged 81. Born in Norfolk in 1929, Peter was educated at the Universities of Cambridge and London. He then trained as a curaror in Birmingham, working for two years at the Scunthorpe Museum and eventually moved to New Zealand to teach in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Otago from 1958 to 1968 where he also worked at the Otago Museum alongside HD Skinner. Under their guidance the Department grew from a partly employed single lecturer to an independent and fully functioning four fields Anthropology & Archaeology Department.
Peter returned to England to work as Lecturer in Ethnology at Oxford, jointly with the Pitt Rivers Museum until he became the Principal Curator of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge from 1970 to 1981, subsequently taking up the position of Dean at Darwin College.…

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Raymond Allchin  1923-2010

From Daniel Miller, UCL
I hope readers won’t mind a short personal condolence to the family and friends of F.R. Allchin who was my PhD supervisor. Based at the University of Cambridge since 1959 he was the leading UK expert on the archaeology of South Asia, co-author with his wife Bridget of the seminal textbooks on this topic. He was a genial and generous figure who fully supported my work, mainly by making sure that no one in the University tried to stop me doing what was then seen as a rather unconventional piece of research in ethno-archaeology. For those who knew him he appealed as the kind of `old-school’ `gentleman-scholar’ who maintained his affection and concern for colleagues in both South Asia and the UK.…

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RGS Honours Denis Cosgrove (1948-2008)

An event to celebrate the career of Denis Cosgrove will take place on Friday 30 May, at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), 1 Kensington Gore, from 5pm (tea served from 4pm).
This event will include talks by some of the people who knew and worked with Denis since the 1970s, and the launch of his new book, Geography and Vision: Seeing, Imagining and Representing the World, soon to be published by I. B. Tauris.
Further details of this event, and information on how to register your interest, are now available here.
All are welcome but it would be helpful for planning purposes if those intending to come to this event could send an email to
Please circulate this message to any interested colleagues and friends.…

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Peter Ucko (1938-2007)


We provide a link to an obituary by Neal Ascherson for Peter Ucko, former Secretary of the World Archaeological Congress and former Director of the Institute of Archaeology UCL, that was published in the Independent UK on the 21st June.
Click below to continue: Michael Rowlands provides some further reminiscences on the role Peter played in the rebirth of material culture studies in the British Anthropology scene of the 1960s.

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