Ioan Davies (Essex: 1965-1970) Born 1936; died 2000

Ioan Davies was born in 1936 in the Belgian Congo.

He was one of the earliest lecturers and PhD students at Essex, from 1965 to 1970, when he gained his PhD.

Sadly he died February 15, 2000 in  Cuba.

FRANK PEARCE, who taught at Essex in 1978-9 and gained his Ph D a few years later, has written an obituary. He writes:

IDML
I remember well when and where I first met Ioan Davies. It was in 1968 at a Sociology Department seminar at the University of Kent at Canterbury. The word from Essex University, one of the most radical campuses in England, was that he was politically and academically well respected and was known to have a significantly international orientation. This strikingly tall and lyrical Welshman certainly made a strong impression on those of us attending the seminar not only because of the impressive quality of his talk but but also because he was so willing to seriously engage with our quite heterogeneous intellectual and political concerns. He presented a version of his important paper on “The Management of Knowledge: a critique of the use of Typologies in the Sociology of Education.” This was to be subsequently published in Sociology and reprinted in Michael Young’s influential reader, Knowledge and Control, a book which, incidentally, also included a paper by Alan Blum who was to become a close friend and colleague at York University. In the paper, Ioan, effectively challenged the then dominant functionalist approaches to the Sociology of Education and thus played a role in the general demolition then occurring of functionalism’s peculiar fusion of theoreticism and abstract empiricism. He did this in a quite original way by eschewing both the neo-Weberian subjectivism of so much anti-functionalist sociology and also the economistic reductionism often then characteristic of the Marxist alternative. Anybody familiar with his writings will not be surprised that his critique was grounded in Gramsci’s analyses and worked with rich comparative and historical materials — including articles by Edward Thompson and Perry Anderson, fellow members of the New Left Clubs — and that he also made confident use of the essays of the poet Octavio Paz. There was a similar breadth to the last paper he intended to deliver, “The New Internationalism,” for the conference, which he had helped organise, on “Marxism Today: A Renewed Left View” at the Instituto Superior de Arte, in Havana. Tragically, while in Cuba, he died of a heart attack before he could deliver it.

For more: see In Memoriam: Ioan Davies

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