RSS Feed

Obituary Archive

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 want to be in a band to promote a single that has become a (very) […]


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 his son, in one of his favourite Upper West Side eateries, the Metro Diner. Marshall Howard Berman grew up in humble Jewish Morrisania in the South Bronx. His parents ran a ‘doomed mom-and-pop’ garment company, Betmar Tag & Label Co., half a block from Times […]


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 his interests, his critical intelligence and enduring political commitment. Equally at home with film, literature and […]


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 was born in Hampstead to socialist parents. After being educated at High Wycombe school, she read […]


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. His father Leopold Percy Hobsbaum (changed to Hobsbawm through the error of a consular official), […]


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 the promotion of Marxist philosophical studies in the British academy. His final post before retirement was […]


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 of the last century. Neil was born in Leith, Scotland, on 18 July 1954. His undergraduate […]


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 at the time. After moving to New York she founded New York Radical Women (NYRW) and wrote […]


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 wanted poster: Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve, alias Sandor Krasna, alias Hayao Yamaneko, alias Kosinski, alias Guillaume-en-Egypte, alias Sergei […]


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 family of wine producers who owned the prestigious Château de Pommard in Burgundy. In 1940, at the age […]


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 man of untiring energy and vitalism, he had formed many generations of younger scholars, intellectuals and activists. And yet, […]


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 it is misleading for those coming to his work for the first time. Certainly, Kittler’s work would […]


David Macey, 1949-2011

Biographer of the French intellectual Left
by and / RP 171 (Jan/Feb 2012) / Obituary

David Macey died from complications of lung cancer on 7 October. He embodied the paradox of being a fine public intellectual while remaining an intenselyprivate person. He was one of the best intellectual historians of his generation and added appreciably to scholarly knowledge, yet did his most significant work as a freelance writer outside the confines of the conventional academy. To an editor concerned with making serious work accessible to […]


Margaret Whitford, 1947–2011

by / RP 170 (Nov/Dec 2011) / Obituary

‘It is difficult to convey the desert which faced women philosophers in Britain in the early 1980s’, Margaret Whitford once remarked. It was a desert that Margaret’s own work was pivotal in modifying. At a time when feminism was flourishing outside the academy, philosophy seemed especially immune from its influence; both in terms of content and in terms of numbers of women philosophers employed in academic departments. Philosophers who attempted […]


Sara Ruddick, 1935–2011

A Mother's Thought
by / RP 167 (May/Jun 2011) / Obituary

‘I speak about a mother’s thought’ wrote Sara Ruddick, the feminist philosopher who has died in New York at the age of 76. Along with Adrienne Rich, Ruddick was probably the most important philosophical thinker to address the issue of mothering and motherhood since second-wave feminism, and in a similar spirit to that of Grace Paley, to extend her analysis of mothering under patriarchy to the development of the values necessary […]


Captain Beefheart, 1941–2010

Vorticist Artist
by / RP 166 (Mar/Apr 2011) / Obituary

Ben Watson assesses Beefheart’s work as a protest against those who profit from the very separation of elite and mass music.


Colin Ward, 1924–2010

The incremental anarchist
by / RP 161 (May/Jun 2010) / Obituary

Colin Ward, who died on 11 February 2010, was the leading anarchist thinker and writer of postwar Britain. Ward’s anarchism was at once constructive, creative and immensely practical. It drew critical but sympathetic attention from many outside the anarchist movement, and arguably it still holds lessons for contemporary radical thought. Born in 1924 in suburban Essex, Ward gravitated to the anarchist movement while serving in the army during World War II. […]


Claude Lévi-Strauss, 1908–2009

A Lévi-Straussian century
by / RP 160 (Mar/Apr 2010) / Obituary

Patrice Maniglier argues that if the next century might be one day be recognized as Deleuzian or Badiouian, it won’t be so without us first realizing that the one that has just ended was Lévi-Straussian.


J.G. Ballard, 1930–2009

by / RP 156 (Jul/Aug 2009) / Obituary