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Kaoru Aoyama, PhD 2001-2005

Kaoru Aoyama, PhD 2001-2005I have been working at the Graduate School of Intercultural Studies, Kobe University, Japan, since October 2010. This is my first permanent academic job after temporary positions at Tohoku and Kyoto Universities. Now, I have been promoted to professor this April, feeling very old… So, yes, in this climate, I should be really happy about my work situation. But, as you all know very well, it’s hectic and getting worse.

As an Essex sociologist, I sometimes look at STATISTICS and compare them with my own personal experiences: among many notorious figures in Japan (and I have no intention of mentioning any sexist/ultra-right-wing remarks by st*p*d politicians at all here) are the long working hours. There is a warning that beyond 60 hours a week, the rate of karo-shi, or death by work-related exhaustion/stress, increases considerably (surprise, surprise!); and among my colleagues we say, ‘60 hours? We should have died 1.5 times by now’. Yes, I am exaggerating; academics do not work so much during summer and so we don’t exceed the karo-shi line on average, except that summer ‘holidays’ are the only time we can work as researchers.

At the moment, I am very much looking forward to the end of my service as chairperson of the International Exchange Committee this autumn – anyone fancy a teaching, research or student exchange with a Japanese university?

Despite feeling overworked, I’m not giving up this job quite yet, though, because I have a mortgage for the first time in my life, too, and I still think this is the best paid job in which I can follow my research interest. I am still working on global sex work issues, very much built on my Ph.D. project. The difference now is that I do not focus only on migrant workers but also Japanese workers and increasingly leaning towards participatory action research. After coming back from Essex, I keep finding myself in situations which people in academia need to engage in in order to make certain issues, otherwise swept away as personal troubles, social.  But it’s nice, seriously, to find a good use for what I enjoyed so much in the process of learning:

– Ken’s artistic lectures and creative talks, Rob’s crafted lectures and pinpoint supervisions, Paul’s interview methodology, Lucinda’s book launch, Colin’s ‘way of life that does not exist’, Pam’s hands-on ‘how to finish in three years’ class, Yasmin and Maggie O’Neil’s tough viva, departmental seminars, brown bag seminars, our little individually organised seminars and chats in the student offices, teas here and there, expensive but fine campus accommodation, the lake in rain, the smell in the library, Ph.D. conferences at Aldeburgh, mulled wine in the common room, the TESCO junction towards Wivenhoe village, the foot path, estuary, the house on Chaney Road, pints at the Rose and Crown and the list, with deep-felt thanks, never ends.

Besides, I do find the Essex brand of sociology is an excellent tool to keep reminding us that people ‘out there’ are much more knowledgeable than anyone in academia, never mind in national politics, about the issues they should have been at the centre of. It has also equipped us with theories and methodologies that distinguish sociologists from others’ ways of being useful; the awareness is with us that we need to question the theory/practice divide particularly in handling the West/East divide. The pain is that at the moment this type of sociology looks like it is losing funding and so on around the world. Let’s wait and see if our connection to the real will pay off in the end.

To be fair, life in Kobe is not bad overall. It’s a nice city with a working port, beach, mountain, hotspas, lively centre and history of modernising Asia. We will have trouble visiting all the good-looking eating-out places in a lifetime – anyone fancy Japanese dinner around here? I’m from Tokyo originally but I don’t want to go back to live there anymore. Being away from Tokyo overcrowding it’s also good that you don’t have to queue too long to see films and exhibitions (when you have time to visit them at all).

Here, I live with my partner who I met at Essex as my housemates-cum-course-mates’ friend. After struggling with a too-long-distance relationship, we decided to get a civil partnership and live together in Japan. The partnership is not recognised here but we are openly and civilisedly demanding university, municipal, sometimes state offices to give us equal welfare and legal treatment. Of course we fail every time because this is a sovereign state ruled by its own law. But never mind, this can be another participatory action research on migration, gender, sexuality, intimacy, citizenship and nationality combined anyway. Moreover, we are expecting a baby in a week’s time! Ask me about the adventure of bringing up a child in a queer family in Japan next time.

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Tony Woodiwiss (1974-1999, Professor and Head of Department)

Happy days: memories of Essex Sociology

Tony with Alison Scott at an Examiner's Dinner around 1979

Tony with Alison Scott at an Examiner’s Dinner around 1979

I have loved reading all the stories gathered in so far and share the affection and gratitude they exhibit. But there is one aspect of the experience that has not yet received the attention it deserves – how many ordinary happinesses there were and I am sure there still are. So here are a few of the many things that that still make me laugh or smile whenever I remember them.

 

 

Walking down to campus from Wivenhoe House.

The departmental reading room, especially when the morning rolls and coffee had just arrived.

Having to cross a picket line when I came for my interview.

Mary Girling’s huge dogs lying around the office when they were sick.

Walking past Mike Lane’s office after lunch.

Peter Townsend really meaning it when telling me that he was very pleased that the University had given me tenure despite the objections of the Department’s senior staff(himself included).

Staying overnight in George Kolankiewicz’s house in Queens Road with my first real duvet, my last outside toilet and my only Francis Bacon soon to live next door.

Stan Cohen’s greeting smile.

Dancing the ‘funky gibbon’ with Mary Mac at one of Ted and Shelley’s parties.

Numberless parties at Ken and Ev’s: great music, brilliant food and far too much drink.

Having to learn how to teach again after smoking was banned in all classrooms.

Seeing the first punk tour with Wreckless Eric, the Stranglers et al in the university ballroom.

Derrick Schwartz telling me that Harold Wolpe’s nickname amongst the graduate students was ‘killer’ because he always responded to their answers to his questions by asking them to explain why they had so answered.

Dropping in on George Kolankiewicz, Sean Nixon or Ted Benton for a chat.

The Rose and Crown.

Ted’s face when I told him at a party in the upstairs bar that my idea of communism was lying on a beach, listening to music and drinking beer.

Driving up to Colchester from London with Harold and Ernesto Laclau. They argued about Marxism all the way – never again, absolutely terrifying.

Many lifts from Harold on his own to and from London – also very fast but not quite so terrifying. I ultimately realized that he was trying to teach me how to theorize with his relentless ‘whys?’.

Being in a car going back to London wIth Jean Baudrillard – haunting.

Lifts to London with Sean, RIchard Wilson and Carlo Ruzza: life-enhancing and serene progresses.

Watching George on TV every night during the rise of Solidarity.

Harold’s poker evenings in Wivenhoe. I never played but Mike Lane, MIck Mann and colleagues from Literature did. No one ever admitted to losing anything…

The Fuller Bequest: it paid for two long trips to and around the US during the 1970s – Greyhound is probably the best way for a sociologist to travel around America, but does anyone have the time anymore?

An outdoor hot spring bath with Professor Fuwa and his colleagues on a Japanese mountainside when the first snowflakes of the winter started to fall.

Staying overnight at Dennis Marsden and Jean Duncombe’s, especially our breakfast chats.

Realizing that when Mary GIrling gave me a nickname it meant I was generally accepted as being a fit and proper person to be a member of the Department.

Spending time with Howard Newby in Madison when we were both exiles in America.

Maxine Molyneux when she suddenly swerved off the road and roared around a field when taking me and others back from the pub to my house in Wormingford – such is the power of Abbot Ale.

A gorgeous lunch at Mick Mann and NIcky Hart’s equally gorgeous house in Dedham.

The ‘Sociology of the USA’ class that lasted four and half hours.

David Lockwood’s amusement on suddenly realizing that we both had rather small feet.

Eating horse sashimi (and mushrooms) with HIromi Shimodaira in Matsumoto.

A lovely party at Ian Craib’s beautiful windmill in Sudbury.

Cruising (not really) in Santa Barbara and Hollywood with Harvey Molotch and Glen.

The External Examiner’s dinners.

Going with Pete Utting and Amalia Chamorro to the celebrations in Managua that marked the second anniversary of the Nicaraguan revolution – ‘presente’.

Getting extremely drunk (on Sociology as well as wine) at Bryan Turner’s house one night – I think that must have been when we became frIends.

Teaching the joint seminar in Government and Sociology with Bob Jessop. Having just ridden all the way from Cambridge on his pushbike, Bob would come in and speak perfect Jessopese for the first hour without a note.

DInner in Hong Kong with Ken and Ev, Travis Kong, Raymond Chan but unfortunately not Jimmy Wong.

Getting to know John Gagnon (a little). The most sophisticated person I have ever met – ‘awesome’ as he would never say in a million years.

An outdoor hot bath with Professor Fuwa and his colleages on a Japanese mountainside when the first snowflakes of the winter started to fall.

Great chats with Lydia Morris at the French House in Soho.

Bryan suggesting to me at the Dictionary Launch in the LTB foyer that I extend my work on labour rights to human rights more generally. I replied that unfortunately I knew nothing about human rights. ‘Exactly’ said Bryan, ‘nobody in sociology does’.

Suggesting to Richard Wilson that he extend his work on truth commissions to human rights more generally. Richard replied that unfortunately he knew nothing about human rIghts. ‘Exactly’ I said.

A summer holiday in Montecastrilli with Mike and Joan – delicious and topped off with dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Joinville on the way back.

Visiting (many times) Katsu Harada’s beautiful, neo-traditional house in Kamakura and listening to jazz.

Harold’s inevitable response to any request for advice on a difficult personal matter, ‘Tony, do as you think best.’ Still good advice.

Thanks everyone.
Tony

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Jenny Popay, MA in Social Service Planning 1976-77

Jennie Popay 1977I am currently professor of Sociology and Public Health at Lancaster University. I have had similar academic appointments at University of Leeds and Salford and before that was research fellow and senior research fellow at the Institute of Education Thomas Coram Research Unit, the Independent Study Commission on the Family funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the Unit for the study of Health Policy University of London. I am also chair of a major grant giving national charity the People’s health Trust which provides grants to support community groups to improve their neighbourhoods.

My research interests include: Social Determinants of Health Inequalities, community empowerment, sociology of knowledge and evaluation of policies/actions aimed at improving socio-economic conditions in low income neighbourhoods.

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The ROLL CALL continued

More names to join the ever growing list: why not add yours?

Ajay KHANDELWAL (MA, PhD,1995) has worked in a number of health and social care roles over the last twenty years across voluntary and statutory sectors. Ajay joined NESTA in 2011.

Motohiro KAWASIMA (MA PhD 2004) Assistant Professor Education and Research Support Center, Graduate School of Medicine, Gunma University 4-2 Aramaki-machi, Maebashi, Gunma, 371-8510, Japan

Richard KILMINSTER ( PhD  ) lectured at Leeds University and became a specialist on the work of Norbert Elias

Dave KING (1977-1986 PhD) became a Senior Lecturer at Liverpool University

Travis KONG (1993-2000 MA, PhD) is Assistant Professor at Hong Kong University and currently editor of the journal Sexualities.

Pauline LANE (1986-89,BA; 91-95 PHD) is Reader in Mental Health at Anglia Ruskin University & South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, but about to leave.

Di LEONARD was one of the first to teach a feminist agenda in the department in the early 1970’s. After several years at Essex University, she moved to the Institute of Education where she became a professor in the 1990s. She died in 2011.

Chin Ju-LIN ( 2003, PhD )   is currently Associate Professor in the Graduate Institute of Gender Studies in Kaohsiung Medical University, Taiwan

Ruth LISTER (1964-7) became a poverty campaigner, a social policy Professor at Loughborough University and a Dame in the House of Lords ……

Jose LOPEZ (1994-2000, MA PhD, Fellow) became associate Professor at the University of Ottawa, Canada

Terry LOVELL is now Emeritus Professor Sociology at the University of Warwick, where she taught courses in women’s studies and cultural studies

Trevor LUMIS ( 1981, PhD   ) wrote many books based on “oral evidence’; he died in September 2013 ( see: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/books-obituaries/10365001/Trevor-Lummis.html

Dawn LYON (2004-7 Senior Research Officer) is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Kent

Dan MAHONEY (1998-2004) is an Associate Professor with the School of Nutrition at Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and is also a family sociologist with an interest in the social, cultural and health-related aspects of interpersonal relationships. Dan teaches and conducts research in the areas of health, research methods, sexuality, and family studies. His methodological interests in family-based research include interpretive ethnography, self-reflexive storytelling, and thematic and narrative analysis.

Jane MARCEAU (lecturer 1967-70)   Professor Jane Marceau was formerly Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research), University of Western Sydney

John MARSHALL (1976-82) became editor of Gay Times for ten years. After this, he left academic and gay politics to become a librarian.

Gordon MARSHALL (1978- 1990) became Chief Executive of the ESRC, Vice Chancellor of Reading University(2003-11), Director of the Leverhulme Foundation and awarded FBA and CBE.

Susan MASON (1978-2001, MA, Ph ) is now retired and lives in Ipswich.

Hannah MASON-BISH ( 2009, PhD ) is Lecturer in Sociology and Criminology at the University of Sussex

Ken MENZIES (1973, PhD) Professor of Sociology, University of Guelph, Canada.

Gareth MILLINGTON (2006, PhD ) is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Roehampton, London

Gad MIMRAN (2005-8, BA) runs an international volunteer placement organisation called Plan My Gap Year.

Siyndu MOHANATHAS (2009-12) a business support officer with NSPCC ChildLine

 

Go to the cumulative listing at: ROLL CALL

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23 more names for the Essex Sociology Roll Call

Fiona DEVINE  (1980-1990) did a joint degree in Sociology and Government between 1980-83; then an MA in Sociology on a part time basis between 1983-85, and a PhD in 1985 and was awarded it in 1990.Became Professor of Sociology at Manchester, a world leader in the study of social class, and an OBE  and member of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Jean DUNCOMBE (  ?-   1999, MA, PhD) married Dennis Marsden and became a Principal Lecturer at Chichester University. She is now retired.

Tim EDWARDS ( Ph.D 1991  )   is a Senior Lecture in Sociology at Leicester University

Dave ELDER-VASS  (2006 -10, Postdoc) After a career as an IT specialist and executive, he studied for his PhD at Birkbeck, University of London, and spent three years as a British Academy post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex. He is now a Senior Lecture in Sociology at Lougborough.

Annabel FARADAY (1973-198?). After becoming a ‘pioneer of lesbian history’, she left academia to become a ceramicist.

David FORD  (PhD, 2000) was a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Programme Leader at University College, Chester. Included in David’s publications is ‘Realism and Research, Philosophy and Poverty Politics: the Example of Smoking,’ in Lopez, J and Potter, G. After Postmodernism: Critical Realism, Athlone Press, 2002.  He sadly died in 2011.

Tabitha FREEMAN (1996-2004, PhD )  has been a Research Associate at the Centre for Family Research since 2004 at Cambridge University. Her research addresses parent-child relationships and child development in different family forms, including those created by assisted conception.

Kimberley Drae FISHER (1994-2002, PhD Research Fellow) worked for ISER and is now Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford  where she works in the Centre for Time Use Research

Pauline FULLER (BA, PhD, 1995..) is a Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Well Being at the University of Wolverhampton

Eileen GREEN (1974-5, MA) joined Teesside University as Professor of Sociology in 1996. She was a founder Director of the Centre for Social and Policy Research and co-director of the Unit for Social and Policy Research USPR. Before this she was Reader in Sociology at Sheffield Hallam University, where she was Director of the Centre for Women’s Studies between 1988 and 1992 and Head of Sociology from 1994-6. She retired in 2011 but remains a Professor Emeritus at Teesside University.

Aisha GILL (1993-2002, BA, MA PhD) is a senior lecturer in Criminology at Roehampton University. In 2011 she was named Professional Woman of the Year at the Asian Awards ‘and also Alumna of the Year at Essex, 2012.

Diana GITTENS  (Ph.D1979 )   is a writer and poet, with various publications in both prose and poetry. She has been an Associate Lecturer in Creative Writing for the Open University, but is now writing full-time. She has published four works of nonfiction, a collection of poetry, short prose and a number of reviews and essays in various magazines and journals. Her poetry pamphlet, BORK!, came out in May 2013, published by HappenStance Press. Born in the USA, she came to the UK when she 14, where she attended Dartington Hall School and the University of Essex. I also studied at the University of Paris and Bath Spa University. She now lives in Exeter with her partner, two cats and three hens.

Paul GODIN ( 2002 PhD   ) is a Senior Lecturer at City University. His research area highlights mental health care and examines the links between the penal and asylum systems.

Dennis GORMAN (  -1988 PhD ) is Professor and Head of Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Texas A & M University.

Michael HAJIMICHAEL (1979-82, BA) is Assistant Professor in Communications at The University of Nicosia, Cyprus.  He is also a performance poet, radio broadcaster and DJ, known as Haji Mike.

Catherine HAKIM   ( 1974 PhD) became Director of the ESRC Data Archive for one year ( 1989-1990) and in 2013 was a Senior Research Officer at the Centre for Policy Studies. She is the controversial author of Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital (2011).

Peter HALFPENNY ( PhD 1976) former Associate Director of MeRC and Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences until September 2010. He was Head of the Department of Sociology from 1993 to 1996, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law in 2003-04, and first Head of the School of Social Sciences for two years after the new University of Manchester was formed by the merger of the Victoria University of Manchester and UMIST in 2004. He was Executive Director of the National Centre for e-Social Science from its establishment in 2004 until 2009

Mike HARDEY ( 80’s) taught at Surrey, York  and died unexpectedly in 2012 (see his daughter’s web site and account on: http://www.mariannhardey.com/mike-hardey)

Gina HARKELL (Social History 1980’s) has become a celebrated jazz singer

Barbara HUDSON ( 1977-198?) became Professor of Criminology at University of South Lancashire. Died September 2013….

Edith R. JIMENEZ  HUERTA  (  PhD1988  )   Research professor, Department of Regional-INESER Studies, University Center for Economic and Administrative Sciences, University of Guadalajara, Mexico

Meltem KARADAG (2004, PhD ) is Associate Professor of Sociology at Gaziantep University, Turkey

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Judith Okely ( Lectured 1981-1989)

UnknownFurther details on my Essex Students in the 1980s Judith Okely

When I arrived at Essex from Durham University where I had been lecturer, I soon noticed very different students. In the former, many came from elite Public Schools, although I am delighted one of the most talented was first generation university from a Manchester working class family. He is now professor and former Dean at Durham. But he was the exception. In Essex I did not encounter many students from private schools. One who attended my Social Anthropology Course, I knew immediately was from the North East. He was a true Geordie and shockingly, not likely ever to have been at Durham university. Indeed, so disconnected were the Southerners at Durham that when a postgraduate, born and brought up in Newcastle, was heard talking at a student party, several congratulated him for his ‘perfect imitation’ of the local accent.

The student in Essex was doing a joint sociology/government degree and told me years later he knew John Bercow there. This person is now Speaker in the House of Commons. Andy Dawson , by contrast got to know me well. He was gripped by social anthropology. I supervised his dissertation where he gathered the older university porters and cleaners for a recorded discussion about ageing. Typically he had got to know them. There was no class distance here. He obtained a distinction for the outcome.

Well into my time at Essex, I obtained several ESRC grants on Ageing both in France and Essex. There were at the time competitive ESRC phd awards ‘linked’ to an existing staff research grant. This was the year of the miners’ strike. Despite negative support from the then senior staff, I put in an application for Andy, at his suggestion, to do research on Ageing, retired miners. Just before we finalized the application, I asked if he had any connections with miners. His reply “EEH flower, 11 of me uncles were miners!” It was an added bonus to elaborate his knowledge of the North East locality as research site. I believe that some about 6 colleagues applied with different proposals. I was the only successful one.

I had been thrilled by Andy’s parents’ excitement at his graduation. He was the first in his extended family. The joy was even more ecstatic when he obtained his phd. He had various research jobs then a lectureship at Hull university. In the mid 1990s, he persuaded me to move there from Edinburgh. Eventually,  Dr Andy Dawson was to become Professor of anthropology at Melbourne university, Australia.

Recently I emailed him to ask for details of an extraordinary encounter which he had mentioned in the late 1990s when we were both at Hull. One of our phd students had become involved in studying conflict in former Yugoslavia. Andy followed him to the field sites, many of terrible violence.

Dr Andy Dawson in Bosnia asked if he could make contact with key peacekeeper officials. Initially skeptical, he found door after door opening. Entering the main office, he approached the manin charge who casually looked up and said ‘Hello Andy. I did your course on the Anthropology of Europe at Hull’. He argued that this was the only thing which helped make sense of the context. He has become a leading light in ‘The Organisation of the High Representative’ led for most of its existence by Paddy Ashdowne, the EU’s body in Europe. This senior official’s main degree was in S. E. Asia Studies at Hull, with the one course from our sociology/ anthropology department.

Andy emailed me: ‘ When I was there, Bosnia was full of young lawyers and political scientists whose core belief was that, since Bosnians has got themselves into this mess, they were the  last people that one should listen to in devising resolutions. They believed that peace-building was all simply about the rigid implementation of international law. In contrast, Jonathan  (Robinson) was very much an anthropologist, learning the language, getting out into the field and listening to people. The feeling was that through this he was able to broker some really significant agreements between local Serbs and returning Muslims. I have no doubt that this explains his rise.”

All this is inspirational. As a committed anthropologist I delighted that Paul Thompson, then HOD, and others on the appointments committee which included David Lockwood and Peter Townsend, offered me the lectureship. It was only a year later, that I was to discover  that a female sociologist, initiated an unsuccessful petition against my appointment. Apparently for her, anthropology was reduced to racial/racist profiling. A couple of years into my appointment, she asked me why it was that so many students enrolled for my course. It was incomprehensible. The example of Andy Dawson proves the point. I still note other ex students who have progressed in wonderful ways after graduating. It is always a joy to recognize them and see their trajectory.

Judith Okely

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Raymond Chan (MA 1989, PhD 1996)

Raymond ChanKen asked me to write a short piece to share my memory of my encounter with Sociology Department at Essex, which I am delighted to do so.
I learnt about Sociology at Essex from my former teacher Sammy Chiu (who had been at Essex in 1982 to 83). Those big names such as Peter Townsend, Stan Cohen, David Lockwood, Paul Thompson …; and the radical and progressive academic atmosphere attracted me. With all those fantasy and romantic dreams on studying overseas, I came to Essex to study the MA in Social Service Planning programme (which ceased to be on offer from the early 1990s) in 1988. I was greeted by Dennis Marsden along the corridor (in fact, he sent me most of the course outline months earlier so that I could prepare better), and then, a warm welcome by Brenda Corti who showed me my pigeon hole in the Sociology Reading Room. The Reading Room became my favourite place to meet friends and fellow students (and I learnt how to refill the coffee powder in the machine, and drink coffee on and on every day). It was there I found two Hong Kong students (C H Ng and W K Chan) were in there final stage of PhD study in the Department. I was very fortunate to have the Department’s support and then receive a full scholarship to support my study. Without this, I don’t think I could have come to Essex. It proved to be a turning point of my life.

Yet, I was probably not too ready for academic study at that time, and did not perform very  well during this year. Nevertheless, it gave me an eye-opening experience, being exposed to a variety of theories and perspectives, staff with diverse academic interests, and personal contact with students from all over the world. I was also impressed by the very informal and warm atmosphere in the Department, with a lot of social activities: the graduate workshop and conference at Clacton-on-Sea, the gatherings and interesting discussions in The Rose and Crown at Wivenhoe (I can now  find it  on Google Earth!), Chinese meals at the relatively cheap Dragon House also at Wivenhoe (I still have a picture with Omololu Soyombo who is now at Lagos University, and Moha Asri Abdullah who is now with International Islamic University Malaysia). I also remember Mary Girling’s lovely dogs sitting quietly in the Reading Room. May to June 1989 was a dramatic and traumatic moment for many Chinese students, for the things happened in Tiananmen Square. And the Department staff were very understanding and supported us in organizing actions on the campus. In that year, I also experienced many personal challenges, and I was so grateful to the support from Dennis, Michael Harloe, Brenda, Mary and many others, that I could recover quickly to complete my dissertation (supervised by Michael) in August and then have time for  a lovely “run-the-England / Scotland” trip with Moha.

I graduated in 1989, and went back to Hong Kong to work for three years. But I decided to return to Essex to start my PhD in September 1992, under the supervision of Michael. As Michael was leaving for Salford to become  Vice-chancellor in 1997, I had a good reason pushing me to finish my study as quickly as possible (I passed the viva in January 1996, and received my PhD in July). I still consider coming back to Essex to do my PhD as the right decision. I received tremendous support and excellent guidance from Michael, Colin Samson and Rob Stones (they were my panel member). Studying PhD was a very different experience from studying a MA. Well, I became older and more mature, spent lesser time in the Common Room and more time in my own office, concentrated on my own study and more intellectual discussion with other PhD students. The Department offered me financial sponsorship on data collection both in UK and in Hong Kong. After spending the first year in Essex, I returned to Hong Kong to work with City University of Hong Kong (where I stay until now) to earn money to pay tuition fee. Thanks to email, I received very good guidance from Michael. Michael gave me very detail comments on every draft chapter.

It was 25 years since I first came to Essex. In August 2013, I visited the Department again with my family, told my children how I spent my times in there. That was summer, and the Reading Room and the campus were almost empty. Still managed to buy souvenir from the shop. I also visited Mary, and my children played with her deerhounds.

have had many opportunities to connect with old and new friends from Essex in many other occasions. Met Ken, Rob, Paul Thompson, Yasmin Soysal, Karen O’Reilly (she is also the external examiner of a programme in my University) and Tony Woodiwiss in Hong Kong, Bryan Turner in Seoul, Adrian Sinfield in Edinburgh, Michael (apart from Hong Kong) in Salford and Oxford, Mary in Brightlingsea, John Scott through email (!), visited the ‘Colin Bell’ Building at Stirling, hosted two Essex Sociology graduates as my post-doc fellow and visiting PhD student.  But sad to know some have passed away in these years: Ian Craib, Dennis, Brenda, Mary McIntosh, Barbara Hudson …

The Department has changed a lot. The social policy (my major research area) component seems no longer a key emphasis in the Department. Many familiar faces have left. Yet, the Department is as strong, vibrant, energetic and international as always. Wihtout any hesitation, I am proud to be a graduate of the Essex Sociology Department.

I welcome you to visit me in Hong Kong!
URL:  http://www6.cityu.edu.hk/stfprofile/raymond.chan.htm

Raymond Chan (MA 1989, PhD 1996)

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