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Obituary Archive

Open form: Pierre Boulez, 1927–2016

by / RP 197 (May/June 2016) / Obituary

The death of Pierre Boulez came as a gentle shock to those for whom he is a figure of colossal importance in the postwar musical world. Pierre Boulez: Composer, Conductor, Enigma, the title of Joan Peyser’s 1976 book, does only partial justice to a musician whose contribution was truly much, much more; by times essayist, …

A political Marxist: Ellen Meiksins Wood, 1942–2016

by / RP 197 (May/June 2016) / Obituary

I have a vivid memory – too vivid to be an accident – of the first time I read something written by Ellen Meiksins Wood. It was an article in New Left Review on the separation of the economic from the political; it was, of course, polemical. I didn’t know the context of the polemic …

Dialectical negativism: Michael Theunissen, 1932-2015

by / RP 192 (July/Aug 2015) / Obituary

Michael Theunissen applied a motto to his understanding of his own philosophy, drawn from Kierkegaard: to aim to be a corrective to one’s time. However, he did not take this to imply merely the vigilance of an intellectual who identifies, explains and criticizes moral and political distortions, any more than did the thinker to whom …

Harun Farocki, 1944–2014

The image scout
by / RP 188 (Nov/Dec 2014) / Obituary

In one of the last electronic letters that Harun Farocki sent me this summer (his emails were often genuine letters), he remarked on the World Cup and Germany’s victory over Argentina, pointing out the headline of Germany’s major tabloid: ‘Bild had “You Are the Pope, But We are the Foot God” – a title I’m …

Realism and moral being

Andrew Collier, 1944–2014
by and / RP 187 (Sept/Oct 2014) / Obituary

Andrew Collier, who died on 3 July after more than a decade living with cancer, was a member of the Radical Philosophy editorial collective during the 1990s and a longstanding contributor to the journal. Born in Edmonton, North London, towards the end of World War II, he attended Bedford College, University of London (later …

Rhetorics of populism

Ernesto Laclau, 1935–2014
by / RP 186 (Jul/Aug 2014) / Article, Obituary

The publication of Ernesto Laclau’s The Rhetorical Foundations of Society, only weeks after his death in April 2014, confirms his status as one of the foremost contemporary political theorists of the Left.* Since the 1980s, his influence has been extraordinary, particularly in the UK and Latin America: rethinking democratic leftist politics during and after the …

Stuart Hall, 1932–2014

by , and / RP 185 (May/Jun 2014) / Obituary


After Pan-Africanism

Placing Stuart Hall

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Edward W. Said died in 2003. Jacques Derrida died in 2004. Kofi Awoonor was killed in Westgate Mall last year. Now Stuart Hall is gone. A generation of intellectuals and activists, and intellectual–activists, is disappearing. Academics worldwide could not think ‘Black Britain’ before Stuart Hall. …

Rock as minimal modernism

Lou Reed, 1942–2013
by / RP 183 (Jan/Feb 2014) / Obituary

I wouldn’t recommend me as entertainment. – Lou Reed, 1978

It has acquired the status of a primal scene. 1964. A party in New York’s Lower East Side, the mythical site of the period. Terry Phillips, an executive at Pickwick Records, meets two ‘long-haired’ young men. Thinking they look the part, he asks them if they …

Marshall Berman, 1940–2013

by / RP 183 (Jan/Feb 2014) / Obituary

Humanist Marxist and prophet of modern life, Marshall Berman passed away on 11 September 2013, aged 72. He died of a heart attack, breakfasting with an old friend, photographer Mel Rosenthal, in one of his favourite Upper West Side eateries, the Metro Diner. Marshall Howard Berman grew up in humble Jewish Morrisania in the South …

Socialism and the sea

Allan Sekula, 1951–2013
by / RP 182 (Nov/Dec 2013) / Obituary

Photographer, film-maker, cultural theorist and political activist, Allan Sekula was one of the outstanding Marxist intellectuals of his generation. The author of pioneering histories of photography, he produced genre-shifting exhibitions, books and videos. Almost at the end of his life, he co-directed an award-winning documentary film, and was renowned for the sheer range of …

Gillian Howie, 1965-2013

by / RP 180 (July/Aug 2013) / Obituary

‘The Personal is the Philosophical’

Mary McIntosh, 1936–2013

A Founder of Feminist Review
by / RP 178 (Mar/Apr 2013) / Obituary

Mary McIntosh was an intellectual, a socialist and a feminist activist. She was a woman of strong principles, combined with an abundance of personal kindness. She occupied a pioneering role in many social movements of the late twentieth century, in particular the Gay Liberation Front and the second-wave feminist movements of the 1970s.

Mary …

Eric Hobsbawn, 1917-2012

'He Knew Everything'
by / RP 178 (Mar/Apr 2013) / Obituary

Eric Hobsbawm often told the story of his life, saying that it offered an interesting point of view for the historian he became. He was born in 1917 in Alexandria, in an Egypt then a British protectorate, to Jewish parents. His paternal grandfather was a Polish cabinetmaker who had emigrated to Britain in the 1870s. …

John Mepham, 1938–2012

An English Marxist
by / RP 177 (Jan/Feb 2013) / Obituary

John Mepham, one of the founding editors of Radical Philosophy, died in London, in September, aged 73. He was a fine thinker and much valued teacher, whose expertise ranged across science, philosophy and literature. During his period as a lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Sussex (1965-76) he played an important part in …

Neil Smith, 1954-2012

by / RP 177 (Jan/Feb 2013) / Obituary

‘Gregarious’, ‘brilliant’, ‘inspiring’, ‘mischievous’, ‘cheeky’, ‘complicated’ and ‘revolutionary’ are all terms used over the years to describe Neil Smith, who has died from liver failure. While the full influence of his legacy on radical social theory, and Marxist spatial theory in particular, remains to be seen, he stands among the most important geographical theorists …

Shulamith Firestone, 1945–2012

by / RP 176 (Nov/Dec 2012) / Obituary

Shulamith Firestone was perhaps the most infamous radical feminist theorist of the twentieth century. As a student at the Art Institute of Chicago, she became an early activist in the women’s movement, founding (with Jo Freeman) the Westside Group in 1967, in large part in response to the patronizing sexism of left politics …

Chris Marker, 1921–2012

Future anterior
by / RP 176 (Nov/Dec 2012) / Obituary

Should we start with the death in Paris, on 29 July 2012, at the age of 91? Or with the birth, on the same day in 1921 in Ulan Bator (or Belleville, or Neuillysur- Seine, depending on who you ask)? We could start, perhaps, with the names, like a proper obituary or a …

Jean Laplanche, 1924–2012

Forming new knots
by / RP 174 (Jul/Aug 2012) / Obituary

Jean Laplanche, one of Europe’s most eminent and original psychoanalytic thinkers, died on 6 May, at the age of 87. His death brings to an end a remarkable intellectual career dedicated to the meticulous analysis and rigorous critical expansion of the Freudian discovery. Laplanche was born on 21 June 1924 to a …

León Rozitchner, 1924–2011

Politics and subjectivity, head-to-head
by / RP 172 (Mar/Apr 2012) / Obituary

When León Rozitchner passed away on 4 September 2011 after months in the hospital where he had been battling the complications of a cancer operation, his long-time friend and the current director of the National Library of Argentina, Horacio González, referred to him as ‘the philosopher the country has had for the past sixty years’. A …

Friedrich Adolf Kittler, 1943–2011

‘Switch off all apparatuses’
by / RP 172 (Mar/Apr 2012) / Obituary

It is a mark of how far Kittler’s reputation had spread in the English-speaking world that he had acquired his own cutely alliterative epithet: ‘the Derrida of the digital age’. It was probably an inevitable moniker for a figure who brought his own brand of poststructuralist thinking to bear on media technologies, but …