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Two former Essex people were awarded Honorary Degrees at this year’s Graduation Ceremonies
Paul Thompson is a world pioneering oral historian and was a founder appointment in the sociology department in September 1964. He has been associated with the department for the past fifty years!
Andrew Mack was an early Sociology/ Government student at Essex. He helped revolutionise the field of peace research, making important contributions to the work of the United Nations and working at leading universities around the world.
He is currently Director of the Human Security Report Project at Simon Fraser University in Canada and a faculty member of the university’s new School for International Studies. Prior to this he directed the Human Security Centre at the University of British Columbia. Before this, Professor Mack was a Visiting Professor at the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at Harvard University.
Professor Andrew Mack is an Essex alumnus who helped revolutionise the field of peace research, making important contributions to the work of the United Nations and working at leading universities around the world.School for International Studies. Prior to this he directed the Human Security Centre at the University of British Columbia. Before this, Professor Mack was a Visiting Professor at the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at Harvard University.
Hear what they have to say on the University/ Department Facebook Page
Damian WHITE (PhD 1995-2000). Taught Sociology at East London and Goldsmiths after Essex. Then headed off to the USA.
5 years at James Madison University in Virginia. Now in New England, Associate Professor of Sociology and Head of the Department of HIstory, Philosophy and Social Science at the Rhode Island School of Design.
He is the 101 entry on the ROLL CALL. Thanks Damian!
The next entry will be the 100th entry on the Blog will it come from you?
Damian White is a sociologist and political theorist with interests in urban and environmental sociology, historical sociology, political sociology, urban political ecology, critical theory, science and technology studies, the sociology of the future and the sociology of design and architecture. He has a BA (First Class) in Political Science and American Studies from the University of Keele, an M.Sc in Political Sociology and Political Theory from Birkbeck College, University of London and a Ph.D in Sociology from the University of Essex. He is the winner of the Edna Schaffer Humanist Award (2008) and the John.R.Frazier Award (2012) for excellence in teaching.
Damian has published three books to date: Bookchin – A Critical Appraisal (Pluto Press, UK/University of Michigan Press USA 2008), Technonatures: Environments, Technologies, Spaces and Places in the Twenty-First Century (Wilfred Laurier Press, 2009) and Autonomy, Solidarity, Possibility: The Colin Ward Reader (AK Press, 2011).
Knowing about this marvellous celebration, I have called my nostalgic memories,with deep gratitude,of those days staying from 1983 to1984 in the Department where I had many chance to enjoy happy,friendly relations with you and your faculty members.
I really hope the Sociology Department has more brilliant future in the next 50th years.
I have already retired from the University, and now I am mainly writing onthe family life story of my maternal historical lineage which go back in the17century(Edo feudal age)when the ancestor was a head of a fisherman’sCo-operative.
I am always walking nearby around, sometimes flying a kite on the seashore, and not in bad health at present.
Imaginations: fifty years of Essex Sociology
edited by Ken Plummer
An exciting new publication to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Sociology Department at the University of Essex
The Sociology Department at the University of Essex is a leading international sociology department. Through fifty contributions from past and present, the students and lecturers in the department tell the story of its history, its ideas and its community. It provides an unusual insight into the workings of a British university department as well as the shape of modern British sociology.
You will treasure this book, not only if you worked or studied at Essex, but also if you care deeply about sociology and its future. For those who experienced Essex, it will touch on special memories. But it will also show how much more was going on there than you ever realised at the time. This multidimensional book portrays the amazingly sustained creativity of sociology over a whole range of different directions. That’s why it is much more than history: it also demonstrates the potential of sociology for the future. Paul Thompson An invaluable record of an extraordinary intellectual and educational institution, chronicling the heady years of its genesis and fruition. The volume teems with memories, anecdotes and reflections on this history from a proud assembly of those at the heart of its achievements. Rob Stones
Imaginations: fifty years of Essex Sociology
will be published by Wivenbooks in September 2014.
Copies can be ordered from The Wivenhoe Bookshop, The University Bookshop or direct from Ken Plummer at firstname.lastname@example.org. It will also (eventually) be available on Amazon.
Publication price: £25 ISBN: 9780957085046; 208pp, 50 contributors.
The book will be officially published and launched at the Essex 50th anniversary weekend scheduled for 12-14th September at the University.
The launch will take place at the Sociology Gathering and lunch between 12.30 and 2.30 in The Tony Rich Centre
You can find more details of this on: https://www.essex.ac.uk/fifty/
I first came to Essex in 2004 to pursue a MA in Sociology of Development and ended completing my PhD in Sociology in 2010. I chose to pursue my postgraduate studies at Essex’s Department of Sociology due to its past and present, its commitment to social change and equal opportunities for all and the excellence of its work.
Life in Essex, and Colchester in particular, confronted me in many ways with preconceived ideas of development and was often a challenging experience. Intercultural exchange was a significant gain of this period, as well as affections that will endure for life. In professional terms, Essex marked me deeply. Writing and research skills, ethnography, econometrics, political economy, development, were all tools I gained and that prepared me to perform in diverse platforms, including the academia, international organizations and politics.
In 2009, I joined the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and since 2012, I have worked as a social policy specialist for UNICEF El Salvador. Writing background documents for policy-making might seem distant from traditional sociological practice. However, I see sociology as immanent in these tasks imprinting a perspective to approach social reality, an eager interest for seeking explanations, not conforming to facts in the surface.
I think of the future of sociology from a land where this is uncertain. After enduring 12 years of civil war in the recent past, today it has become a post-conflict society and a low middle-income country. Yet, 5800 children and adolescents were killed by gang activity in El Salvador between 2008 and 2012. 50% of children and adolescents live in monetary poverty. Most of them will only occasionally relate to the state, mostly through public education that they will likely abandon at the age of 14 or by receiving a cash transfer that will partly alleviate their more acute needs. In such a context, citizenship and any form of social cohesion finds several obstacle to develop, becoming a matter of policy attention.
For periods, sociology was banned in the country. Today, while researchers are scarce, society has few observers and remains rather blind to understand how social ties have deteriorated to such a point. The national and international academia says little in probably one of the most interesting countries to do sociology in the world.
Yet, I never imagined the importance of sociological thinking until I came to this country. With few tools to examine society, there are few hints to start improving things from the deep. Such a change goes beyond institutional or policy transformations; it requires citizenry wanting to live or act together, convinced that this is still worthy. Digging into people’s motivations, drives, collective frustrations, fears and dreams might provide a starting point to build a new future.
Do I think there is a future for sociology in 50 years? I certainly do, as long as we decide that social forms of organization are still necessary. Bear in mind that this is not granted. Do I think it is relevant? More than ever, as I have witnessed its capacity to lead change in people’s everyday lives. What do I expect from sociological practice in the future? I envisage an academia interacting with other actors beyond its physical and symbolic walls; I see sociologists submerged in different arenas, hunger for understanding, conducting organized practices to uncover factors explaining social facts, empowered by their research’s impacts, humble before the immensity of the never ending task.
This is an entry from the book: Imaginations- 50 Years of Essex Sociology.
I came from Japan to the Department of Sociology at Essex University in 1997 to do MA in Sociology of Culture. After one year interval (during which I took another master in Social Anthropology in London), I came back because I didn’t find a better place than Essex to be a postgraduate student. I finished my PhD under the supervision of Colin and Ted in 2004 (my research topic was the cultural aspects of whales and whaling), but stayed one more year as a teaching assistant and course tutor. I enjoyed my days at Essex so much — full of readings, lively discussions and delightful gatherings in and outside the Department.
I went back to Japan for job hunting in 2005. After engaging in some research projects on a part-time basis, I was employed as a lecturer by Kobe International University in 2007. The following year, I have moved to Gunma University, where I currently teach such subjects as mass communication theories, contemporary culture, journalism and ENGLISH (I’m not joking) in the Faculty of Social and Information Studies. I also work on some research topics on environmentalism, focusing on human-animal relations.
Japanese universities have been idyllic places for both students and staff in the past, but things have changed dramatically after the British-style certification system was introduced in the early 2000s. Accountability and competition are now the buzzwords. In the name of efficiency, university executives have pursued the concentration of power and they now keep a firm grip on management, especially personnel and educational matters, which were traditionally controlled by the faculty staff in a democratic way. Many of the staff members are stressed out because of overwork and pressure, although universities are still relatively in a better situation than other workplaces.
There is no denying that dehumanization of society is progress in some respects, and there seems to be little hope that we can turn back the situation in the near future. Nonetheless, there are also some positive changes in the world, at least when it comes to the abolition of institutionalized discrimination. It is clear that discrimination against minority groups is not tolerated in contemporary society. Racism and sexism are, for example, outlawed in many parts of the world. If human history is a struggle to expand our moral horizons, we have undoubtedly made a great progress in so far as humans are concerned. I think the next target we should focus on is the alleviation of our exploitation of animals. Speciesism, i.e. arbitrary discrimination on the basis of species, is arguably the last forms of discrimination. In the early 2000s when I was studying human-animal relations, my topic seemed to be taken less seriously than other topics such as gender, ethnicity, globalization and cultural identity by my sociology friends. But things have gradually been changing. We are now creating a society where animals are admitted to have some moral standing, and the study of human-animal relations is accepted as a serious sociological inquiry. Animal are important to us, because, all things considered, the controversy surrounding animals is about what we are and how we define our society.
This is an entry from the book: Imaginations- 50 Years of Essex Sociology.