I have an unusual set-up. I am the Presidential Professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York in the Sociology PhD Program, and Director of the Committee on Religion (2010-) and Professor of the Sociology of Religion and Director of the Centre on Religion and Society at the Australian Catholic University (Melbourne) (2013-)
I came to Essex around 1988 from the University of Utrecht. I have been unfortunately too nomadic in my career. I have had professorships at the Netherlands, Singapore, Sydney, Adelaide, Cambridge and Wesley Mass – just to name a few. However Essex was probably the best sociology department I have worked in. We were in those days young, vibrant and creative, and we had interesting students. I taught medical sociology and a course on citizenship and human rights, and (from memory) ran a course on sociological theory (Perhaps students from those years would like to contact me?) I remember having stimulating research interests with Rob Stones, Lydia Morris, Tony Woodiwiss, and others around everything from postmodernism to human rights and beyond. With Colin Samson I shared an interest in the United States on the one hand and aboriginal societies on the other. With Ken Plummer I explored the early stages of the sociology of the body. David Lockwood was of course highly influential and I still read his work with great pleasure.
I left Essex unfortunately too early and mainly from domestic and financial pressures. I have never been able to resolve the conflict between wanting to live in Australia and work in Europe or North America.
I am still in touch with most of my Essex colleagues and am currently trying to develop a comparative study of Thailand and Singapore with Rob Stones, and Ken wrote a chapter for my Handbook of Body Studies. At CUNY I teach comparative religion and a course on citizenship and human rights. I just finished editing a book on the religions of Asia, and finished another book with a colleague called The Future of Singapore.
I think every sociologist should at some stage live (and possibly work) in New York as the cock-pit of our futures. I love the place but live in New Jersey since only the rich can live comfortable in Manhattan. You are all welcome to visit me and hopefully give a talk to my seminar at the Graduate Center which is on Fifth Avenue and under the Empire State Building.
I hope I have stopped roaming. But you never know! I am writing this note from a hotel in Hanoi – where else can one spend an interesting Christmas? I hope it is not full of spelling mistakes and factual errors, but memory is not a reliable research method.