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Iain Sandison

Iain arrived in the Department of Sociology at Essex in October 23rd. He was a mature student researching Crime and Addiction for his Ph.D. During his time in the Sociology Department be became a highly involved and much loved student. His sad death in March 2008 came as a great shock.

Iains memeorial tree 2008 v3 - Copy

Kenny Monrose writes:

Iain Sanderson was the first person who approached and spoke to me on the day I enrolled in the department. I remember it because it was like the first day at school in many ways – emotions and anxieties ran amok for the newness and anticipation of the exciting things to come. He greeted me with a firm handshake but no smile. In time I realized that Iain wasn’t one for smiling, in fact I don’t think I ever recall him smiling, but that didn’t matter. What you did get from him though in abundance was sincerity and real sense of genuineness – a rare trait in academia, but I digress. Iain’s life was a real tapestry from reaching the ‘heights’ of being an international banker, to hawking the Big Issue on the cobbles, Iain had been there and done it, and didn’t gas about it. As well as being ex military, a banker, a poet, writer and advocate of home baking, to me he was a friend and someone whom I believe the students who he taught had bundles of respect for.

Like me at the time, Iain lived in Newham on the site earmarked for demolition to make way for the 2012 London Olympics, and made bare his sentiments regarding what this upheaval would cause to the community he cherished. As a result he acted tirelessly as a representative for the Clays Lane housing co-operative, in order to aid what was an already deprived and abandoned enclave of London.

I still remember our last meaningful conversation in the Guinness trust flats he was forced to move to in Sloane Square Knightsbridge, where he wasn’t at all happy living and considered it soulless and inexpressive. I was crushed visiting Iain in the Charing Cross hospital and finding him unable to speak, however his eyes knew I was there. Over time the pain eased, knowing that he was truly a beautiful soul who gave encouragement to the powerless, and cared about the welfare of others. I hope the previous talk of extracts from his uncompleted PhD thesis to be published can be revisited.

Kenny Monrose

A tree was planted in Iain’s memory in the university grounds in May 2008.  A few of the photos taken at the memorial event are included here. The names of those present are given below.

Planting Iain's memorial tree 2008   Planting Iain's memorial tree 2008  Planting Iain's memorial tree 2008
Some of those present:

Mike Roper
Dianne Blundell
Robin West
Rachel Frost
Carlos Gigoux
Colin Samson
Eamonn Carrabine
Rob Stones
Jackie Turton
Kenni Monrose
Liz Day nee Carter
Andreas Pollman
Sue Aylott
Mihoko Fukushima
Michele Lamb
Nigel South
Jane Brown (now deceased)
Bethany Morgan
Michelle Hall
Megan Ward
Daniel Nehring
Sheila Marrinan
Dave Sayers
Hannah Mason-Bish
Alexa Gordon

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David Bruce Curtis (1974-1977)

I am living in Denmark, and have been since December 2000. I work as a social pædagog – working in a large institution with mentally and physically disabled adults. Full time and paid. I qualified here in Denmark.

My interests many: history/sociology, particularly military history, sociology of power and deviance. Philosophy – particularly existentialism. I love music and play the piano … badly. I draw and paint.

My time at Essex left me with a passion for certain academic fields, as named above. I admit that my overall ‘world view’ has changed a lot since those days, but Essex gave me the tools.

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New Honorary Degrees


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!

Paul Thompson gaining an Honorary Degree at Essex in July 2015

Paul Thompson gaining an Honorary Degree at Essex in July 2015


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.

Andrew Mack gaining his Honorary Degree at Essex in July 2015

Andrew Mack gaining his Honorary Degree at Essex in July 2015


Hear what they have to say on the University/ Department Facebook  Page

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Shaun Barton, BA 2001

Shaun Barton, BA 2001

Shaun (left), with family.

Had a great time studying Sociology at Essex.  Started my degree in 1996, after the first year I took two years out to live and work in Colchester – needed the money!  Returned to study in 1999 and completed my degree. Probably didn’t take it as serious as I would have done now, and narrowly missed out on a 2:1 by 2%! That was my own fault and it is of great regret. However the experience as a whole has left a mark on me, there is still a fire burning inside me to keep an eye on all things Sociology related – even though time constraints sometimes limit this to listening to Thinking Allowed once per week!! I am now 41, still live in Colchester, have children and am a Client Relationship Manager and Trainer for a local software company.  One day I aim to return to study be it via another undergraduate degree, or a Masters.

My interests include keeping an eye on all things Sociology related, especially research into poverty and social mobility.  I am a keen keep fit enthusiast and enjoy doing Duathlons and cycle sportives.

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THE ROLL CALL: 20 More names for the New Year 2015

THE ROLL CALL: 20 More names for the New Year 2015

Kaoru AOYAMA (–2005, PhD) worked as a research fellow for Tohuko University ‘Gender Law and Social Policy’ and as a part time lecturer for the School of Area and Cultural Studies at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies from 2006 to 2008. She has been working at the Graduate School of Intercultural Studies, Kobe University, Japan, since October 2010.

Anne BEAUMONT ( –2007 PhD ) is a part-time Lecturer at the Open University. She is the author of Virtual Women: Ladyboys: Changing Sex in Thailand.
Marc BURKE (1989 -1993 PhD) became a social psychology lecturer at Surrey University before migrating to the USA. Here he became a writer and social worker- before joining the real estate business.
Raymond CHAN (–1966,PhD) is Associate Professor of Social Policy at City University of Hog Kong – and currently Dean of Students.

Valentina CUZZOCREA (–2008 PhD) is a Research Fellow at the University of Cagliari, Italy, where she graduated in Political Science and more recently taught sociology.
Harry COLLINS (MA 1971) has been Professor of Sociology at the University of Bath and is now Professor of Social Sciences at Cardiff University.

Esther DERMOTT (– 2003 PhD) is Reader in Sociology at the University of Bristol. She is the (co) author of Intimate Fatherhood.
Damien SHORT ( — 2004 PhD ) is Director of the Human Rights Consortium in the School of Advanced Studies at University College London. He is the author of

Reconciliation and Colonial Power: Indigenous Rights in Australia

Agnes SKAMBALLIS (1998, BA 2000, MA) has been administrator for the Journals Sexualities and European Societies throughout the new millennium, and is still based at Essex.

Jon STRATTON (– 1978 PhD) moved to Australia in 1980. He is currently Professor of Media, Culture and Creative Arts at Curtin University, Peth, Western Australia

Lolu SOYOMBO (1988-1991 PhD) is Professor Criminology at the University of Lagos, Nigeria

Rebecca TAYLOR ( — 2002, PhD ) Rebecca Taylor worked at the Policy Studies Institute and is now a research fellow at the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) School of Social Policy House
University of Birmingham. She also teaches on the Third Sector module of the MA Social Policy

Katherine THEODOSIUS (BA- -2003,Ph.D ) is Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Brighton

Andy TUDOR (Staff in the 1960’s) After four years of teaching at the University of Essex in the 1960’s, he joined the Department of Sociology at the University of York in 1970, becoming successively Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor in that department. Head of the Sociology department for six years from 1988 to 1995, he then became Head of the new Department of Theatre, Film and Television in 2006 and retired in 2013.

Jackie TURTON (1992 BA, PhD) is a lecturer in Sociology at the University of Essex

David TRIESMAN ( ‘68) was suspended from Essex in 1968 after breaking up a meeting addressed by a defence industry scientist; but went on to become the general Secretary of the Association of the University Teachers, a member of the Blair Government, the first independent chairman of the Football Association and is now Shadow Foreign Minister in the House of Lords.

Pingla UDIT (PhD, 1998) Pingla was subsequently Special Advisor, Office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions in Post-Apartheid South Africa, and in 2006 served as the Acting Deputy Co-ordinator of the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee (NICOC). She is currently working for the South African government on peace and development projects in Addis Abbaba at the African Union.

Karen WADDY (2005-8, BA) is a Marketing Administrator at LIFE-FORCE Counselling Service, Colchester

Matthew WAITES (MA, 1995) is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Glasgow University

Sylvia WALBY (1976- Ph.D. 1984 ) became Professor of Sociology and the founding UNESCO Chair of Gender Research at the University of Lancaster…..

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Paul Howell, BA 1998

Anne-Marie, Johanna and Paul (just after our finals in 1998)

Anne-Marie, Johanna and Paul (just after our finals in 1998)

With my hand on my heart I can say 100 per cent that those three years (1995-1998) spent at Essex University were the best of my life. I continually reminisce about them.

Prior to Essex, I had been an anxious, withdrawn and rather isolated teenager. I had grown up in Bexhill-on-Sea (a small seaside town on the South East Coast of England) knowing I was gay and to say I was not at all comfortable in my own skin is a definite understatement.

Entering the welcoming Sociology Department in October 1995 – complete with its rainbow flag – was a major awakening for me. And what a journey I was about to embark upon! I didn’t work as hard as I should have but the openness of the department, its inspiring academics (many of whom “out and proud”) and the tolerance which was abounding did so much for me personally. I made some amazing friends, with whom I am still in contact  almost twenty years later (Anne-Marie Kowacs, Susie Scott, Viki Grainger, Johanna Brophy, Loretta El Sadat, Daniel Harris, Agnes Skamballis, Michael Chittenden…). Often I wonder what happened to those acquaintances I met throughout the duration of the course (I’d love to hear from anyone who remembers me!). Everyone was just so upbeat, enthusiastic, friendly and kind. There was a real camaraderie between us all and we were all interested in each other’s welfare. There was never a feeling of competition.

I could go on and on about my very happy memories. I look back with particular fondness on those first term core course lectures conducted by legendary Professor Ken Plummer – especially the last one just before Christmas in 1995. Ken put up a slide on the projector and to our amusement Father Christmas hats were drawn on to the heads of Marx, Weber and Durkheim! I am sure they would have approved! Well, maybe…! This lecture was rounded off with a clip from “It’s A Wonderful Life”!  It certainly set me up for the Christmas holidays! I also had a superb first year core course tutor in Jean Duncombe who was encouraging and good fun. Those Friday morning 9am classes were a joy to attend. As were those second year core course classes taken by the lovely Rob Stones. I was also taught by a lot of student tutors and it’s great that many of them, then starting their careers, are now established Sociologists.

During my three years I was a Resource Room volunteer (so much hilarity took place in that small room and what a delight Helen Hannick was with her endless encouragement!), I attended all the Sociology parties (!!) and the quiz nights. I helped out on the stall at the Freshers’ Fayres in 1996 and 1997. I also took part in helping the department raise money for the Women’s Refuge in Colchester and, in early 1997, participated in Project Sigma. I was also a brief member of Viki Grainger’s Feminist Action Group, which took place weekly in the Resource Room, ending up with quite a few members.

Just before the summer vacation of 1996, Ken Plummer introduced me to the work of novelist Edmund White. I was dreading a return to my seaside town. Yes, I was excited about seeing my family, but I was going to miss my new-found friends. I dived into Edmund White’s “A Boy’s Own Story” and, some ten years later, I was lucky enough to go out to lunch with this author following an event at the Edinburgh Book Festival. I raised a thankful glass to Ken!

Even though there was a lot of serious work being conducted by those very eminent, pioneering and busy Sociologists with research findings “hot off the press”, the department was never short on laughs and it didn’t take itself too seriously. I mean, what other academic department would hold an evening debate on whether or not the Spice Girls were the “new” feminists?! Sadly I can’t remember now what the overall consensus was. But I do remember that the debate got quite heated!

Another fond memory is of the late Mary McIntosh, on the point of retirement, selling many of her books on a big trestle table in the centre of the Reading Room. Despite being a high profile Sociologist, she was humble and very generous.

What I found particularly inspiring was coming across those Sociologists I had encountered in text books while doing my Sociology GCSE and A Level.

There was always support on hand in the department – from the academic staff right down to those who worked in the office, such as Brenda Corti, Mary Girling, and Diane and Sue. You were made to feel welcome – and I did feel completely at home. It really was a breath of fresh air and a safe haven. I had never had as much fun as I did at Essex. If you like quirky people and eccentrics, then you are never to be disappointed studying Sociology at Essex University! It was a very liberal, nurturing and understanding environment.

After my degree I trained as a journalist and later, on a whim, I moved up to Edinburgh, getting a job in the civil service. While in Scotland I was constantly reminded that I was English and naturally certain theories from Sociology lectures came flooding back to me…!

Leaving Essex upon graduation in 1998 was a real wrench and it took me a long time to adjust to post-university life. Even now I can’t think about the experience without getting misty-eyed. Without a doubt I would gladly do it all again. Even better would be to do it all again knowing what I know now! I would say that as well as passing on valuable academic skills and very relevant insights, the department helped us to develop a sense of self and to be the best we possibly could for both society – and for ourselves.

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Emma Milne (BA 2007-2010; PhD continuing)

Emma MilneI first arrived at Essex in 2007 to for an undergraduate degree in history and sociology. The degree inspired me to think about why the world works the way it does and how we can work to make it better. This ignited my passion for gender theory and women’s right.

After successfully completing my masters in history, I left Essex in 2011 in pursuit of the “real world”. Eighteen months later, the novelty of the real world had worn off as I realised that my work neither interest me nor gave me the intellectual stimulation I had so enjoyed whilst studying. So, with my determination to make the world a better place once again instilled in my mind, I polished off my PhD application and headed back to Essex.

Returning to the Sociology department has been everything I hoped it would be, and more. The debate; the conundrums which I am attempting to solve through my research; the encouragement from both staff and my fellow students is wonderful; as is feeling like I, once again, have a purpose in life.

My future exploration of sociology is quite simple: to analyse how women are understood and represented within our society, and try to improve, change, develop and broaden those understandings. For me, the limited concept of “woman”, which all of us who have been assigned that gender live within, is too narrow and confining. For all women to demonstrate their abilities, reach their potential, be equal to men and be treated like individuals, we need to change the image of “woman” and irradiate the limits which that image confines us to.


This is an entry from the book: Imaginations- 50 Years of Essex Sociology.

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