Aug 2 2022

In memory of James Woodburn (1934-2022)

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We are sad to announce the death of James Woodburn, a former colleague and one of the best-known researchers and writers on hunter-gatherer and egalitarian societies. He studied History as an undergraduate in Cambridge, then did national service, later taking an interpreter course in Russian. He returned to Cambridge, this time to do a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology. He conducted fieldwork in (then) Tanganyika, graduating in 1964 with a thesis entitled ‘Social organisation of the Hadza of North Tanganyika’. The Hadza remained his long-term field project; it was on the basis of this research that he developed his renowned insights into immediate- and delayed-return systems. He also collected Hadza material culture for the Horniman museum. While lecturing in our department, he supervised numerous doctoral students, including Roy Ellen, Jerome Lewis and Thomas Widlok, and played a particularly strong mentoring role to several African students, including Bwire Kaare and Wolde Gossa Tadesse. Two of his former students, Thomas Widlok and Wolde Tadesse, held a colloquium in his honour at the Max Planck Institute in Halle, later publishing the proceeds in a two-volume festschrift entitled Property and Equality (Berghahn). He remained a keen participant in the scholarly enterprise long after retirement, and was an honorary member of the International Society of Hunter-Gatherer Research. He regularly attended our Malinowski Lecture and went to CHAGS conferences, co-hosting one at LSE in 1986 and attending the last one in Malaysia in 2018.

Watch video: James Woodburn: A Personal Account of my Life Among the Hadza 1957–1961 6 February 2018

Read article: Egalitarian Societies – James Woodburn

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May 4 2022

In memory of Professor Jude Howell

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A portrait of Professor Jude Howell in a patterned jacket and smiling at the cameraIt is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of our colleague, Professor Jude Howell, on 29 April 2022. Jude was strongly committed to the interdisciplinary field of Development Studies and a leader in it, both in the department and well beyond.

Jude joined LSE in 2003, bringing well-established expertise on China to her teaching and research. Her 1989 D.Phil at the Institute of Development Studies of the University of Sussex addressed China’s Open Policy of 1978-1988, and resulted in her first book, published in 1993. Before joining the Department of International Development, she held positions at the University of East Anglia, the Institute of Development Studies of the University of Sussex, and LSE’s Department of Social Policy. In Jude’s own words, she was a “happy bunny” in her final university home and the department can confirm she was much-loved and appreciated in it.

Jude’s research has continued to explore the field of International Development, matching theoretical sophistication with intensive fieldwork-based research. She was fluent in Chinese and had strong academic and personal networks with scholars and activists across the Global South. While primarily a scholar of China, she also lived and worked in India, Mozambique, and Jordan. She published four more co-authored books and seven edited or co-edited ones, as well as many articles and book chapters.

Jude’s research on civil society is particularly notable, receiving many research grants and generating some of her best-known publications. Her most recent book, NGOs and Accountability in China: Child Welfare Organisations (Palgrave 2018, with XY Shang and K Fisher) showcased her dual concern with how NGOs can be held accountable even as they hold other institutions accountable. Like most of her work, this book is attentive to power relations and hierarchies in the particular conditions of authoritarianism. These are central concerns in the field of Development Studies and Jude was a leading figure in their analysis.

Beyond the academy, many governmental and non-governmental organizations sought Jude’s advice on civil society, China, and related topics. These included UNDP, UNICEF, ILO, Australian Aid, Ford Foundation, Department for International Development UK, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office UK, Save the Children, British Council, Christian Aid, and Asia Monitor Research Centre. For example, her research established a set of principles for the effective working of civil society that was used in Australia to develop a new Civil Society Engagement Framework. Its implementation led to an increase of more than $200 million in funding to NGOs.

James Putzel, a long-time colleague and fellow Professor of Development Studies, wrote:

“It is with great sadness that we witness the passing of our dear colleague Jude Howell. Jude was a modest scholar whose many decades of research and publication made her a giant in Development Studies. Her work on China and particularly her insights on civil society and labour in the country were unique and make an important and lasting contribution to our understanding of this complex giant. But her research stretched much further as indicated by the book she co-authored with Jeremy Lund that delved into the impact of the “war on terror” on civil society across the developing world. Jude was a devoted teacher, who demonstrated infinite patience even when she felt extremely impatient. She was above all an honest scholar and a principled colleague who believed deeply in the value of interdisciplinary development studies. We, at LSE, will miss her dearly, as will, I am sure, the community of scholars across the world who are trying to make sense of the problems of ‘late development’.”

Jude was a thought-provoking and effective instructor, rising to the challenges of novel forms of teaching in the pandemic. Several decades of students have taken her demanding DV432 course, China in Developmental Perspective, learning about Chinese development experiences at home as well as its relations with other countries. In recent years, she has returned to her Development Studies roots to be a core instructor in DV442, a required core course for the department’s MSc’s in Health and International Development and International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies.

One recent student, Han Yibo (MSc Development Studies 2019-2020) gave her a fitting eulogy, noting: “We talk about her, ‘hate’ her, and we love her. She is famous among Chinese students and her work on China is a must-read. Sometimes we ‘hate’ her because she is so outspoken and level-headed to our society, and it is so difficult and awkward for us to admit that she is upright… and so right. She inspires us to challenge our deep-rooted thoughts and look at China in the mirror. We all love her.” We hope that her other students can add recent memories in the “Responses” section below.

Finally, colleague Kate Meagher adds some texture to our remembrances of Jude by reminding us of who she was as a person and the things that motivated her to the very end:

“Jude was a deeply committed scholar who engaged with International Development as a vocation driven by the pursuit of justice, and interdisciplinary as well as cross-cultural understanding. She spoke of her Welsh origins and working class background as formative of her profound respect for knowledge, labour struggles and just regulatory authority. Her fluency in Chinese allowed her to decipher the complex permutations of labour struggles in China, which often took the form of labour NGOs – always with sensitivity to the risks faced by those she engaged with. Jude was active in supporting Chinese activists and scholars at risk, as well as being genuinely supportive of colleagues and a committed member of the UCU. But above all she was a vibrant and warm human being, with her maroon hair, marathon running, love of good food and joyous refusal to give up. We will miss her dearly.”

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Apr 12 2022

In memory of Ray Paul

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It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Ray Paul, who died on Tuesday 29 March 2022. Our deepest sympathies are with Jasna and the rest of Ray’s family.

After a BSc, MSc and then PhD in mathematics and operational research at the University of Hull, Ray’s academic career was spent at two institutions – LSE and, later, Brunel University.  He arrived at LSE in the early 1970s initially doing teaching and research in operational research where his former undergraduate student (and later colleague) Tony Cornford reflected on his teaching style “Ray was the one who had the most direct and student focused approach. He looked at you, not the back of the room or the blackboard, but straight in your eyes. He asked questions and expected a response.  His technique with the coloured pens and the overhead projector was exemplary, and his lecture notes were also a cut above—readable, coherent and with blank sections for the difficult bits that you had to fill in for yourself. You really felt that he had thought about his teaching and his students, and was on your side”.

Over time, Ray came to specialise in the area of simulation modelling and, particularly, discrete event simulation modelling where he brought together a stream of successful PhD students who explored a range of phenomena around the building and visual representation of simulation models.

Ray supervised over 55 PhD students during his career and one frequently bumps into one of his PhD “children”, “grandchildren” and even “great grandchildren”, a community he took great pride in.

When the Department of Information Systems at LSE was created following the dissolution of the Department of Statistical and Mathematical Sciences (SAMS) Ray moved across from Operational Research to Information Systems, working closely with the new Head of Department, Ian Angell to build on the distinctive approach to the social study of information systems at LSE.

Alongside departmental duties as Ian’s deputy, Ray also took on a number of school wide roles including as Dean of Admissions and developed many of the person management skills that would support him well in his later career.  He worked closely and collegially with professional services colleagues and always found it more effective to have a quite word about a particularly contentious piece of business beforehand than to have the issue end up being argued about in a meeting itself.

As colleague Chrisanthi Avgerou noted, “Ray was the voice of witty optimism in everyday LSE life and of cool reasoning whenever there was trouble”.  Many colleagues have recollected this mix of a dry sense of humour, sharp analytical thinking and warm kindness since hearing of Ray’s passing.

Ray’s ongoing connections with Operational Research (he was awarded the Companionship in Operational Research by the Operational Research Society in 2009) was instrumental in the launch of the European Journal of Information Systems (EJIS) as a publication of the Operational Research Society in 1991.  Ray wryly describes the origins in an editorial entitled “Changeover and celebrating change: 20 reasons for celebrating 20 years” published in 2007.

He was editor (with Editor–in–Chief the late Bob O’Keefe) of EJIS between 2000 and 2003 and then Editor–in–Chief, sharing the role with Bob and Richard Baskerville between 2004 and 2007.  In these roles he sought to continuously improve EJIS in all ways possible.  Ray was understandably proud when EJIS was named as one of the AIS Senior Scholars’ basket of 8 leading journals in the field and, more recently, when it was recognised as publishing some of the most original and best–executed research in the field in the 2021 CABS Academic Journal Guide.

Alongside Ray’s role in launching EJIS, Ray was also pivotal in creating the first European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS) which organised by the Operational Research Society.  The 30th ECIS conference takes place this June in Timisoira, Romania.

In 1992 Ray left the LSE to take up a chair at Brunel University and he was soon appointed as Head of Department and then Dean of the Faculty of Technology and Information Systems.  For a while, he was also acting Dean of the Faculties of Science and Life Sciences at Brunel.  When asked how he could manage such a diverse portfolio, he outlined one of his key management tips that he gladly shared with junior colleagues.  If one of the Heads of Department asked him to sign a document, he did so automatically because he knew he could trust his Heads of Department to flag up anything where he would be needed to make a judgement call on the issue.  Moreover, if he felt he couldn’t trust the judgement of his Department Heads and had to check what they were asking him to sign then that was what needed fixing not the particular documents he had been asked to sign.  In this way, he nurtured a generation of now senior academics who continue to embody the positive, supportive role he played in their careers in their own institutions.

Ray was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease whilst at Brunel although it took him quite some time to come to terms with his diagnosis, not least because it meant he had to take sickness retirement soon after it became public knowledge.  Nevertheless he continued to remain active as a scholar including a Visiting Professorship at LSE and became President of the UK Academy for Information Systems (UKAIS) in 2012–13.

He wrote about his experiences with a Parkinson’s diagnosis in his 2009 book “Living with Parkinson’s disease: Shake, rattle and roll”.  The title played to his sense of humour and reflected his experience of the beneficial role that dancing could bring as both a source of pleasure wherever there was a good tune playing as well as being a form of mental and physical resilience to those living with Parkinson’s disease.  The book gave hope to many who were coming to terms with their own or a loved one’s Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Alongside his love of great music to dance to, Ray was also an avid table football player and many people have fond memories of (typically) being repeatedly thrashed by Ray in games.

In lieu of flowers, Ray’s family would welcome donations to Parkinson’s UK https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/donate.

 

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Apr 4 2022

In memory of Stephen Dunn

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LSE’s Stephen Dunn

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Stephen Dunn, who died on Tuesday 29 March 2022. Our deepest sympathies are with Stephen’s family. 

Stephen joined LSE as a Lecturer in the Department of Industrial Relations in 1985. Steve (as he was known) was a wonderful writer, colleague and teacher. Steve graduated from Oxford in history before moving into the field of industrial relations having experienced it first hand as a shop steward in the Bowyers meat processing factory in his hometown of Trowbridge in Wiltshire. Steve became an expert on closed shop, publishing The Closed Shop in British Industry (London: Macmillan) in 1984 with John Gennard. He published extensively in the 1980s and 1990s on the closed shop and other British industrial relations issues such as the content of British collective agreements (Dunn and Wright 1994), employee share options (Dewe, Dunn and Richardson 1988) and the legacy of the Donovan Commission (Dunn 1993). Later he developed an interest in industrial relations in South Africa via his former PhD student Eddy Donnelly, publishing on post-apartheid industrial relations (Donnelly and Dunn 2006). 

Steve’s flair for writing was legendary. As Sir David Metcalf, Emeritus Professor and former head of LSE’s Department of Industrial Relations, put it, Steve “wrote like a dream.” Punchy openings and ringing phrases were Steve’s trademark. He advised colleagues “never to start an article with the letter ‘T.’”  The implication was to avoid beginnings such as “This article will argue…” and try something more arresting – perhaps something like “Love it or loathe it,” the phrase with which Steve began his article on strikes in essential services for the Employment Policy Institute. Even Steve’s lecture notes were written with panache.  

Colleagues remember Steve as sociable and supportive. Rafael Gomez, Director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto, recalls, “Stephen was a real support to me in my first year at the LSE. I was young, alone, living outside of Canada for the first time and he was really generous with his time.” He was also a fount of knowledge regarding industrial relations. Steve’s deep and broad knowledge was an invaluable resource for colleagues. As Sir David Metcalf noted, “you learnt so much talking to him.” Conversations with Steve were always thought-provoking, often involving passionate debate as well as humour.   

Steve was equally inspiring as a teacher. He paced the room, drawing on his reserves of knowledge to extemporise. The results were often brilliant and never dull. He always had time for students, dedicating long hours to supervision of dissertations and links projects. He also took great care with feedback and his role as personal tutor. Former students such as Verity Lewis, an alumna of the Industrial Relations undergraduate programme, remember his kindness in the days when the undergraduate programme was small and dominated by the department’s MSc programmes.  

Steve retired in 2012, departing LSE on a high note. Professor Jackie Coyle-Shapiro, then head of the EROB group of the LSE Department of Management, organised a seminar and dinner to honour Steve’s work. It was an exceptionally well-attended and inspiring event at which the affection for Steve was palpable.  Steve, typically modest, had said he didn’t want any speeches, but blushed with delight as he listened to his colleagues’ appreciation.  As Professor Jackie Coyle-Shapiro notes “Steve had much more impact on colleagues and students than he was aware of.  His humility and generosity were remarkable; his flair for writing was unique.”   

Steve’s colleagues are deeply saddened by his death. It was a joy to work and be friends with him. He will be greatly missed. 

 

References: 

Dewe, P., Dunn, S. and Richardson, R., 1988. Employee Share Option Schemes, Why Workers Are Attracted to Them. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 26 (1), pp.1-20. 

Donnelly, E. and Dunn, S., 2006. Ten years after: South African employment relations since the negotiated revolution. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 44 (1), pp.1-29. 

Dunn, S., 1993. From Donovan to… wherever. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 31 (2), pp.169-187. 

Dunn, S. and Gennard, J., 1984. The closed shop in British industry.  London: Macmillan. 

Dunn, S. and Wright, M., 1994. Maintaining the ‘Status Quo’? An Analysis of the Contents of British Collective Agreements, 1979–1990. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 32 (1), pp.23-46. 

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Mar 24 2022

In memory of Baroness Elspeth Howe (1932-2022)

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Portrait of Baroness HoweIt is with great sadness that LSE learned of the death of Baroness Elspeth Howe, the Crossbench Peer, justice of the peace, public servant and LSE alumna, who died on 22 March aged 90.

Elspeth was an energetic, witty, and much-loved champion of LSE. She spoke with great fondness of her studies here at a time when, as ever, she was blazing a trail – in this case, displaying the insight and expertise that mature learners bring to the life of a university.

Her intellectual acumen and generosity are well-remembered by those who studied with her, and we are extremely grateful for her support long after she left. As well as acting a School Governor for an extraordinary 22 years, she kindly promoted our Parliamentary Internships Programme, supporting students to take their first steps into public service and helping kick-start many successful careers.

We were delighted to welcome her back to LSE several times, such as in September 2018, when she visited our Women’s Collection in the Library and offered typically inspiring thoughts on the exhibits through the prism of her own decades of experience.

She was tirelessly dedicated to public service, and she continues to be an inspiration to students who are considering involvement in public life and looking to her achievements as an example of the possibilities available to them.

LSE Director Minouche Shafik shared her condolences saying:

“Elspeth leaves a rich and lasting legacy at LSE and will long be remembered. I am personally sorry I was never able to benefit from her guidance in the House of Lords, though I shall always be inspired by her commitment and thoughtfulness.”

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Feb 2 2022

In memory of Christopher Langford (1941- 2022)

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LSE is deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Christopher Langford, who died aged 80 on 20 January 2022.

Chris was an emeritus reader in Demography in the department of Social Policy at the LSE. He started working here in 1967 until he retired in 2001. Retirement was just in name as he was keen to come to the LSE to work and could be seen in the research lab until a few years ago.

His first work at the LSE was to take charge of the implementation, data preparation and analysis of the 1967-68 Population Investigation Committee survey of fertility and contraceptive practice in Great Britain, and wrote the final report (C.M. Langford, Birth Control Practice and Marital Fertility in Great Britain, 1976). His first stream of work mainly focussed on contraception and abortion in the UK. Subsequently he worked on the demography of Sri Lanka being one of the first scholars to explore the richness of its registration and census data.

During his retirement his focus was mainly around famine and influenza including again focussing on Sri Lanka, then China and London. Interest in Sri Lanka included learning Sinhalese and immersing himself in local culture rather than analysing remote survey data. One of Chris’ major contributions was arguably in teaching. He taught a course on demographic methods that had over 200 students at one stage. His major achievement was in the establishment and leadership of the MSc in Demography at LSE, which provided well-trained cohorts of students who have made a substantial contribution to the subject’s skill base around the World. Chris always put his students at the heart of his work and will be remembered fondly for his empathy and attention to detail.
He loved talking to colleagues and students alike whether while in the research lab in social policy or down the pub over a pint of Black Sheep (on which he had shares). Chris will be remembered by colleagues and students that have met him for his ability to make everyone feel at ease, tell a demographic tale in the most interesting way and engage in a conversation about historical pandemic facts. He was a firm believer in the importance and power of regular informal meetings with colleagues, and junior colleagues benefitted from his weekly coffee meetings in the 4th Floor restaurant – where he dispensed advice and coffee in equal measure.

His annual trips to the pantomime at the Theatre Royal in Stratford were legendary – organised so that international students saw a slice of idiosyncratic British culture – were a firm favourite of his students, long before “The Student Experience” became a core element of university practice. Chris was infamous for his waste-not-want-not approach, notably his ability to use pencil stubs and 1970s computer punch cards in lieu of notebooks.

He leaves a huge legacy of affection and respect from over his three decades at LSE.

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Jan 27 2022

In memory of Adrian Hall (1949-2021)

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It is with great sadness that LSE learned of the death of Adrian Hall, who died aged 71 on 13 December 2021.

Adrian spent his entire working life in higher education. After serving as President of the Students’ Union at Royal Holloway, his first post was at the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals. After this he moved to the London School of Economics and Political Science where he met his wife, Sarah.

Adrian worked at LSE for 40 years, completing his career as the Head of Administration. Described as a force of nature, his range of experience, his phenomenal capacity for hard work, his innovative approach and sense of humour in difficult situations were all very much valued and made him a dedicated LSE servant.
Mark Thomson, Academic Registrar, remembers Adrian as his first boss at LSE.

“I’d made it to the second round of interviews for a role in what was then known as the Secretariat. Adrian was on the panel this time and it was utterly nerve-wracking. Amidst the standard questions of “Can you give an example of a time you…”, he blindsided me with “How do you know something’s finished?” Not a question for which I had prepared. But I discovered that by providing half a competent answer, followed by a pause, Adrian was ready to step in and answer his own question. I made a mental note of this stalling technique and used it for years afterwards, learning about successful and steely administration from a master practitioner.

“Adrian was a skilled strategist and canny political operator, with a network whose tendrils reached into every nook and cranny of LSE. He was a fleet-footed administrator who could nudge the wheel of LSE’s governance machinery with a gossamer touch or with fearsome firepower – whatever was required.

“Working with him in those early years was often not less nerve-wracking than that initial interview, but I certainly owe him a debt of gratitude for influencing my development as a neophyte administrator. He showed me how to see the big picture.”

Adrian will be missed by so many across our LSE community, and beyond. Members and friends of our School are invited to share their own memories and reflections of Adrian in the comments below.

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Jan 24 2022

In memory of Paul Myners (1948-2022)

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LSE is deeply saddened by the death of Paul Myners, Lord Myners, who died aged 73 on January 16.

The former Marks and Spencer chairman and City minister in Gordon Brown’s government, joined LSE in 2015 as Chair of the Court of Governors and Council. He used his business and financial skills to ensure that the School remained financially robust and to underpin its strategic aims. In particular, he supported the School’s ambitious campus development, including the Centre Building and the Marshall Building. He also oversaw a review of School governance and management structures to reinforce effective management and oversight.

A bold and colourful character from humble beginnings, he was committed to the role of education in facilitating social mobility. He supported the vision of the school to engage, to modernise, to attract the best students and academics, and to compete internationally with the world’s top universities.

In an interview with the Financial Times published in 2016, Lord Myners said he found his work with LSE very fulfilling and that he enjoyed interacting with students on campus. He explained how he relished going to the School’s Garrick restaurant to speak with them to find out how their experiences could be further improved.

He combined his posts at LSE with several financial roles, including positions at RIT Capital Partners, Autonomous Research and Cevian Capital, and at Edelman, the PR firm.

His distinguished and varied career began with short stints as a teacher and a journalist. He moved into the financial sector in 1974 as a junior portfolio manager at N M Rothschild & Sons and was appointed to the board just three years later. He then became CEO of the pension fund manager Gartmore in 1985 and its Chair in 1987, spending the majority of his City career there until 2001. He was awarded a CBE in 2001.

From 2004 to 2008 he chaired the Tate, presiding over a period of considerable development in both the collection and the fabric of the galleries themselves. He was the Chair of Marks and Spencer from 2004-06. Other past chairmanships include the Guardian Media Group, Land Securities and the Low Pay Commission. He was also a member of the Court of the Bank of England from 2004-2008. These chairmanships were relinquished when he was created a Life Peer in 2008 and became Gordon Brown’s City minister, responsible for overseeing the financial services sector during the global financial crisis, including leading the historic bank rescue package. He sat in the House of Lords as a Labour peer until 2014, resigning to become a non-affiliated member before joining the crossbench group in 2015. In 2016, he became University Chancellor of the University of Exeter.

Outside business and public service, he was a passionate supporter of Chelsea Football Club.

Gordon Brown led tributes to Lord Myners: “After a successful career in finance, he was persuaded in 2008 to enter public service and was a tower of strength, helping nationalise key banks and producing a plan to overcome the global financial crisis. His charitable work in his native Cornwall will be long remembered.”

Written by Alan Elias JP, former Vice Chair and Acting Chair of Court and Council.

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Jan 13 2022

In memory of Athar Hussain (1943-2021)

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It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Athar Hussain. Athar died peacefully in hospital in October 2021 after a long illness. His wife Jill Hodges and their daughter Lalla were at his bedside. He had been a devoted and prolific Research Fellow at LSE for almost three decades,  funded by commissions and grants. He was a member of the India Observatory and Head of the LSE South Asia Research Centre.

His fields of research were development economics, alongside welfare and public policy – richly comparative because the areas of his research included not only his native Pakistan but also India, China, and more recently Vietnam. Before these more empirical policy studies he was engaged in more theoretical expositions and critiques. Throughout he was a congenial collaborative researcher and co-author.

Professor Nick Stern recalls an outstanding intellectual with an extraordinary range of interests and skills (plus a mastery of a range of languages including Chinese):

“We met first as graduate students in 1968 in Oxford and I learned from him continually over a friendship of over more than half a century. In our early days we discussed a lot of economic theory, planning, and public policy. He appeared to have read everything from serious philosophy to the most mathematical of modelling. It was as a scholar of China that he was probably the best known and so many of us would look to him for guidance.

“He could discern not only the big picture and the arc of history but also the details of what was actually happening. I remember him at a joint meeting of the British Academy and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences carefully explaining the functions and difficulties of the Hukou, or household registration system, in a way that was really helpful to many China scholars. He was also an immensely kind person always ready to help including, in my case, lending a splendid ‘flying pigeon’ bicycle for me to use in Beijing. He contributed to LSE including for an extended period as head of the South Asia Research Centre.

“Athar brought many Chinese students to the school, some of whom worked closely with us in STICERD. One of them, Wang Limin, has written that the many waves of young Chinese officials taught by Athar received economics training and were helped to connect research directly with policy-making, and many of them are now working in high places in China.”

Professor Stephan Feuchtwang recalls an intellectual, a work comrade and a friend:

“He was an important part of my life. We had each read Marx’s main works carefully. He and I shared a network of critical Marxists. He co-authored with Keith Tribe studies of Marxism and the agrarian question, with Paul Hirst and others a study of Marx’s Capital and capitalism today, with Mark Cousins a study of the thought of Michel Foucault, and with me studies of the Chinese economy in the nineteen eighties. More recently he did me the favour of asking me to join him in a team of researchers to study urbanisation in China, in this century.

“As a personal friend I fondly remember his acquisitiveness of languages, not just Chinese but Italian. One vivid memory is of us walking up a mountain in the Apuan Alps, he plugged in to a taped Italian lesson. Then he acquired a capacity to read Chinese economic and demographic statistics, having learned the characters for their categories, so as not to rely on their translation into English. From there amazingly he learned through friendship with Chinese colleagues to speak and collect from them idioms and colloquialisms. I had spent university years learning to read Chinese and many months in China to speak. He put me to shame. My parental language is German, and my second language, after English is French. Athar could speak and read German and French better than me, and now threatened to better me in Chinese, though not in Italian.

“I am indebted to his analyses of Chinese economies in many ways. When we organised the seminars that resulted in our volumes on the Chinese Economic Reforms in the Eighties, he was indispensable not only for his study of the Chinese economy, but also in providing comparisons with the Hungarian and other “post-socialist” economic reforms. In the core course of the master’s degree I designed at LSE on China in comparative perspective, his papers on post-socialist “transition” and on the financial sector in the new Chinese economy were indispensable.

“I am grateful in particular for two key contributions. One is the measure of excess deaths that can be gathered from Chinese official statistics as a measure of the Great Leap Famine, 1959-61. The other is that the post-Mao economic reforms should not be judged merely in terms of orthodox economic notions of efficiency, but to see the creation of labour-intensive industrial units as increasing employment and the spread of income.

“We both treasure our times and our work together with him. We will miss him.”

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Oct 18 2021

In memory of Professor George Philip (1951- 2021)

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The Department of Government is deeply saddened by the death, on 13 October, of George Philip, Emeritus Professor of Comparative and Latin American Politics at the LSE.  Born in London in 1951, George Philip received his doctorate from Oxford University and joined the Department of Government in 1976. In a distinguished academic career that spanned over 40 years, he became one of the leading Latin Americanists of his generation.

George Philip’s academic writings addressed key issues of Latin American politics and political economy.  His early works focussed on oil and politics in Latin America (Oil and Politics in Latin America: Nationalist Movements and State Companies), a topic on which he wrote extensively throughout his career. But his work was not defined by narrow specialisms (he defined himself as fox rather than a hedgehog in Isaiah Berlin’s terms). He covered, among others, questions about military power (The Military in South American Politics) the condition of democracy in the region (Democracy in Latin America: Surviving Conflict and Crisis?) and the region’s turn to the left in the early 21st Century (The Triumph of Politics. The Return of the Left in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador). George Philip had a special interest in Mexico, a country in which he had an extensive network of academic and political contacts and from where many of his doctoral students came from. His 1992 book, The Presidency in Mexican Politics, became one the most authoritative works on Mexico’s political institutions of the time.

George Philip introduced several generations of both undergraduate and postgraduate students to the politics of Latin America. He had the talent to make the complex politics of the region understandable and compelling for an audience that may have no previous knowledge of it.  His graduate seminars often adjourned to one of the LSE pubs, where discussions about politics continued and mixed with debates about culture and, of course, his beloved football.  He tutored a large number of PhD students, many of whom went to have important positions in public life in their home countries and made a point of visiting him when back in London.  He was a generous mentor for both postgraduate students and junior colleagues.  Behind the façade of an Oxford-educated English academic, he had a great sense of humour and was easily approachable.

George Philip occupied positions of responsibility in the Department and in the School. He was Convenor (Head of Department) between 2004 and 2007. At School-level he served as Vice Chancellor (Academic) and in several School committees.  Those who worked with him knew his quality. George Philip will be remembered as a top academic, a kind and decent man a generous mentor, and a proud Professor in the Department. He is survived by his wife, Carol.

Contribution by Professor Francisco Panizza 
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