Category Archives: People

A story of migration: From north India to the West Midlands

This blog post forms part of a series exploring identity, culture and heritage as part of the University of Kent’s South Asian Heritage Week.

By Vanisha Jassal, Senior Lecturer, School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research

My story starts – the point at which I am able to recount it anyway – during the 1947 partition which divided my country of origin, India, into two nations: India and Pakistan.  My father, Amar Chand Mahay, was 13 years old; the age my son is today.  Sadly my dad is no longer with us, but he had showered me and my siblings with stories during our childhood, about the struggle he, his 6 siblings and his mum and dad, experienced as they were forced to flee their home and move from what overnight, became Pakistan. The flippancy with which the British Raj demarcated the divisional line between the two countries was narrated to me frequently by uncles and aunties who had all faced similar trauma from this exodus, and images of my extended family’s experience have always stayed with me. I am reminded of them each time I hear of any refugee crisis, as being suffered now by the people of Ukraine.

My day, Amar Chand Mahay, as a young man who migrated to the UK in the 1960s with, I’m sure, new aspirations and dreams.

My dad’s pride in being Indian is engrained in me, and I soaked up the Punjabi and Hindi languages growing up through attending language classes on a Saturday, but mainly through watching hours of Indian cinema. These movies infiltrated our lives with colour, fun, music and dance – they still do. Although our Christmases have always been very British, with a large Turkey (meat and tofu versions!) adorning the dining table, there’s always room to break out into some Bollywood karaoke. The children in our families today, roll their eyes as if to say, ‘here they go again’, but what is beautiful is that they love it too. They may not recall the movies, or even watch any themselves, but they enjoy the rhythms and beats – just as much as we did all those years ago.

I thank my father for instilling in me the capacity to own both one’s culture and that of the country in which you live.  He was very proud to own a British passport, loved shopping in Marks and Spencers and was an active Labour party supporter. He mingled with local politicians and opened the first temple of our faith in the UK. He graduated in English and was one of the few Indian graduates across the West Midlands region to where he migrated in the 1960s.  However, he soon discovered that it was the manual jobs which were plentiful for immigrants and he worked for decades as a factory worker, continuing to engage in scholarly works in his personal time – including studying the ‘Short Oxford Dictionary’ – the title always making my siblings and I laugh as it was anything but short and pretty humongous.

Dad loved being surrounded by his family and is shown here with his twin grandsons, retiring from work to help raise them.  

Looking across the decades, from my father’s first entry to the UK and to my life today, I see experiences which are worlds apart.  However, I am pleased and proud that there is still so much in my life today which remains the same; mainly a strong sense of pride in my own heritage and identity, whilst embracing and being interested in the identities and cultures of all those who come into my life.

I wish I had asked my dad more questions about this major episode and how it shaped his world view and his character. I urge anyone who has, within their family network, members who have experienced significant life events, to be curious about these, enquire more, and document their stories. Luckily for me, my dad was a wonderful storyteller, and he and his younger brother, the last surviving member of that family of nine, would sit all of us children down and tell us about how their parents had to rebuild their life in a new village; how difficult it was to just cook the daily meals; how tirelessly the women and men worked to survive.

A most wonderful recent memory is my husband and I arriving home to find my 16 year old daughter and her two friends blasting Hindi music from her room. An utter delight. Her generation embraces Britishness more than mine did – simply because it is easier to do so growing up being a person of colour today.  However, what is lovely for me is that my children also continue to engage with their Indian heritage – the fashion, the food, the ceremonies – simply because it is so rich and offers them such a strong foundation upon which to build their own lives.

This blog post forms part of a series exploring identity, culture and heritage as part of the University of Kent’s South Asian Heritage Week. This week runs from the 28 March -1 April 2022 and invites exploration of the identities, history and heritage of British South Asians.

For more events and activities please see Kent Union’s South Asian Heritage Week website.

My Cultural Self: Reflections on my British and Sri Lankan upbringing

This blog post forms part of a series exploring identity, culture and heritage as part of the University of Kent’s South Asian Heritage Week.

By Anne Alwis, Senior Lecturer in Classical and Archaeological Studies

When I was six weeks old and my sister was 11, our family emigrated from Sri Lanka to England. Ethnic conflict between the minority Tamil and the majority Sinhalese populations had been flaring for decades. In 1974, my mother, a Tamil Christian, and my father, a Sinhalese Buddhist, sat under a banyan tree and made the momentous decision to leave their country. Casting horoscopes and palm readings were part of their inherited culture and they recalled that a palm reader had told my father that he would have another child and emigrate. They had politely thanked him and afterwards, laughed, reflecting on the waste of money. My sister was ten, they had no plans for another child, and they were happy.

But now, a year later, the situation had changed. I had indeed unexpectedly arrived. Moreover, conflict was escalating and they were afraid. Although their love marriage had always been controversial given their divisive backgrounds, real danger now lurked. My father, who was a Station Master in the age of the steam train, was being escorted home every night by an armed guard for protection. So, they decided on England, where two of my mother’s sisters had lived since the 1960s. Sri Lanka had been occupied by the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British but it was the latter who arguably made the most impact, probably because they were the most recent colonists and had settled the longest (from 1818-1948). My parents viewed England with complex feelings; respect and resentment intertwined in a comfortable alliance. My father could resent the ‘Britishers’, as he called them, yet I am partly named after Princess Anne.

I entered England as an infant smuggler. At Colombo airport, the guards ordered my mother to remove her gold bangles and give them to her brother who was saying goodbye. My resourceful uncle asked to give me one more hug. As he embraced me, he slipped the bangles into my blanket. With one last kiss, he passed me back to my mother and we all entered England safely. My father was 50 and my mother was 38.

Our first home was with aunt Grace, my mother’s youngest sister, who then lived in Frimley. Our two Surrey years were particularly fraught for my sister because she experienced her first, but unfortunately not her last, encounters with racism. Apart from my aunt, we were the only Asians in the neighbourhood. My sister then spoke English with an accent (she is trilingual in Sinhalese, Tamil, and English), and her name is Nalini, which was unpronounceable in those days. Strangers rubbing her skin to see if the brown would come off was the least of her traumas. Another issue were my father’s names: Kadigamuwa Giragamage. He became George. My mother had no problem because her Hindu ancestors were converted by missionaries a generation earlier. Consequently, she and her siblings have the most Methodist names possible: Florence, Wesley, Kingsley, Violet and Grace.

Nursing was the only career available to my parents at that time. After they had left school at 18, they had no relevant UK qualifications. My mother had been a housewife. Because the jobs were in London, and aunt Violet lived in Tooting Broadway, that was our next destination and the place I think of as home. If I had to describe myself, ‘South Londoner’ would be my instinctive first choice. From when I was two until I was four, we lived in a cramped room in aunt Violet’s house. The room was so small that my sister had to sleep on a camp bed in my aunt and uncle’s room whilst I nestled between my parents in their bed.

Living in one room was obviously not ideal and my parents saved hard. Eventually, they were able to rent nursing quarters for a reduced rate at St Benedicts, in Tooting, our first real home. Thanks to my parents’ frugal lifestyle, we bought our first house when I was about 6 and we moved to our final home when I was 8. Our last move was dictated by more racial bullying – stones were being thrown at my sister’s bedroom window.

It transpired that my mother was a born nurse but my father absolutely hated the job. He had loved being a Station Master. However, to support our family, he had no choice. He detested it all his life but, as a very decent and hardworking man, he never took his frustrations out on us, and looking back, I am amazed. All their lives they worked opposite shifts so that someone could be at home with me and my sister, which meant that since we ate as a family, most nights, we had supper around 9 pm. My father, who loved food, learned to cook and it became his main hobby: food shopping in Tooting at the local market and halal shops, cooking – always cooking – borrowing recipe books from Tooting Library, and spending endless hours copying and annotating recipes. Today, I have 16 A4 folders of his opus in my office.

My sister went to the local comprehensive and was effectively miserable for years until she could leave school. Racist bulling was part of her everyday experience but she never told our parents. She felt they would be unable to help and they were always working or looking after me. I, on the other hand, was part of the next generation, which was increasingly diverse. Whilst I had my share of racism – typically being called the ‘P’ word, for example – it happened far less often to me, probably because I grew up in a more mixed environment, with friends from India, Jamaica, Pakistan, the Caribbean, China and Cyprus – Christian, Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim alike – so diversity was my norm.

My parents were very anxious people, endlessly worrying that something ‘bad’ could, or would, happen to us: ‘be careful’ was the mantra of my childhood. But I don’t know if this was naturally part of their characters (both their mothers had died when they were young), a result of their moving, or both. In addition, politeness and obedience were qualities that were ingrained in them, and us, culturally. But most importantly for them, as immigrants, and indeed, as Sri Lankans, my parents’ focus lay on education, working hard, and achievement, which meant high marks. For them, as for many immigrants, these were the only ways by which security and success could be measured. Distraction from schoolwork was strictly frowned upon so my sister and I were not allowed to socialise with friends unless it was our birthday. It was also practically difficult to do so since we did not have a car. My parents wouldn’t let us travel by ourselves in case something bad happened, nor did they themselves have much free time to take us anywhere since they worked so hard to obtain financial security.

Our main social circle was our UK family. Particularly memorable were our boisterous get-togethers for birthdays and Christmases, with a very small group of family friends, all of whom were Sri Lankan Tamils. Every Sunday, my mother would also take us to the local church. Unknown to her, most nights my father would get me to pray to his statue of Lord Buddha.

So how does our story end? My parents emigrated, as millions do, to give their family a better chance in life, and they succeeded. They were genuinely very happily married for 49 years. My sister became a high-flying tax accountant in the City and married a Malaysian Hindu. They have two children. I got a PhD in Classics and am now a lecturer. I eventually married a lapsed Catholic from Argentina and we have one daughter. What my parents wanted for us – their versions of security and happiness – did happen; “touchwood”, as they would say.

 

This blog post forms part of a series exploring identity, culture and heritage as part of the University of Kent’s South Asian Heritage Week. This week runs from the 28 March -1 April 2022 and invites exploration of the identities, history and heritage of British South Asians.

For more events and activities please see Kent Union’s South Asian Heritage Week website.

A Cultural Journey

This blog post forms part of a series exploring identity, culture and heritage as part of the University of Kent’s South Asian Heritage Week.

By Vanisha Jassal, Senior Lecturer, School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research

The early days

My Indian grandma, Chinti Suman, had seven children, one daughter and six boys.  My dad, Amar Chand Mahay was second from youngest.  She was forced to flee her home during the 1947 partition of India as it was now deemed to be located in the new nation of Pakistan.  My dad was 13 at the time – the age of my son now which feels terribly poignant.  I can only imagine the trauma she and my grandad had experienced as they walked days on end with their young family of seven, having to start a new life in a new village miles away.  My dad would recount many years later to me and my siblings, how they never ate for days on end.

My paternal grandma.

An image from the 1950s of my father’s ‘new’ village in India, Ghurka.

In the 1950s, my grandma’s eldest son (far right) moved to the UK.  I do not know what she felt about this; whether she wanted this move for him or whether she wanted him to stay but this was the first major wave of migration from India to the UK – many seeking greater economic stability and prosperity. My uncle settled in the city of Wolverhampton and then invited my dad and the youngest of the sibling group, my youngest uncle (centre), to join him which they did. They lived together for a few years, supporting each other against the challenges of migration – adapting to a completely new life without the strong  family support structures they had had back in India. However, they did amazingly well and remained close to each other throughout their lives.  My youngest uncle is the only remaining survivor of the sibling group today. He turned 80 this year.

My father (far left) and his two brothers who migrated to the UK and settled in the city of Wolverhampton in the 1960s.

When my dad had migrated to the UK in the 1960s, he left behind my mother and four of his young children (my brother and three sisters).  This must have been difficult, especially for my mother as the children were all aged below 11; although she had a large extended family who supported her.  My elder siblings often spoke about how they were so close to their cousins growing up, all living in one huge house and all the men and women doing their share of household chores.  This is so far removed from my own nuclear family and although I still retain close links with my extended family, I feel that it would never quite replicate what they had experienced in India.

In 1970 my mum and siblings migrated to the UK to join my dad.  As young teenagers, they had to learn to adapt to a completely new culture.  Like thousands of other migrating parents, my mother and father sought to ensure that their children retained their culture whilst  embracing the opportunities their new life was providing.

My parents and my siblings – apart from my eldest brother who took the photo, and me as I was not yet born.

Maintaining cultural values and traditions

In the 1970s, my mum and dad decided to extend their family by having three more children. My two brothers and me, the youngest.  Large families were quite the norm amongst migrating families from India and I sometimes think whether adults were trying to re-create the strong sense of family and community that they had back in India.  I enjoy coming from a large family myself and experienced a busy and fun packed childhood, and today have a huge network of cousins.  My husband and myself, however, due to a very different existence from my parents and I suppose, conforming to a more Western sense of family, decided that two children were more than enough!  My daughter often feels quite disgruntled by this, thinking that she may not have quite a wide social network as mine when she grows up; at which point I tell her that she had better get on with her brother then!

Me with my dad and one of my brothers celebrating a birthday (glad my taste in sunglasses improved!)

What I think is wonderful and quite amazing is that subsequent generations following those who had migrated in the 1950s and 1960s, are still continuing the traditions which their grandparents and great grandparents had followed.  At weddings for instance, there are a plethora of rites and rituals which we all follow – even my children – because it is a part of our roots and our culture.  What can be frustrating for my children, Henna and Raam, third generation Indians, is that we cannot always explain what they mean!  There is a serious business opportunity around this – creating a manual of all the traditions, and explanations around the origins of their meaning.

My niece in 2021 at her ‘maiyan’ ceremony, the day before her wedding day.

Me applying Mehndhi (Henna) at my cousin’s wedding in 2019.

Contemporary traditional experiences

Although my children and nieces and nephews are fully immersed in British culture, much more than I and my siblings were, they are still very engaged in and feel the need to preserve their Indian heritage.  For one, they love dressing up for any close family wedding which involves an opportunity to splash out on extravagant Indian clothing and jewellery as shown here.  They are fortunate to be able to pick and choose from two cultures, each which they claim as their own and which indeed are theirs to own, completely.

My daughter Henna (right) and niece Sarin my eldest niece Reema’s wedding in 2021

Me (far right) and from left to right, my niece, sister and and sister-in-law at a family wedding. Indian weddings are known for their grandeur, colour, food and music.  They are often described as a week of partying.  As well as the younger generation, the adults equally like the opportunity to dress up!

The young Indian generation enjoying their heritage.

This blog post forms part of a series exploring identity, culture and heritage as part of the University of Kent’s South Asian Heritage Week. This week runs from the 28 March -1 April 2022 and invites exploration of the identities, history and heritage of British South Asians.

For more events and activities please see Kent Union’s South Asian Heritage Week website.

White British or Mixed Race?

This blog post forms part of a series exploring identity, culture and heritage as part of the University of Kent’s South Asian Heritage Week.

By Becky Lamyman, Student EDI Officer, Student Services

White British or Mixed Race?

I’m staring at the question that I never know how to answer. It is a standard question, a simple tick box and one that the vast majority of people would answer without a second thought. It simply asks me to define my ethnic origin for data management purposes.

The problem is, I never know whether to tick White British or Mixed. I fluctuate between the two depending on my mood, how much of time I have spent with my family, recent interactions and sometimes it just depends on what day of the week it is. I know that for many mixed race people, particularly second and third generation who have been born and raised in Britain, it is a question of identity that they can struggle with.

L- R My Uncle Neil, my Uncle Mark and my mother, Kim in their backgarden in England, circa 1970.

For all intents and purposes I am white. I look white. I have tan skin, light eyes and brown hair. Culturally, I would say I am about 90% white. I was born and raised in Britain and would classify myself as British first and foremost. My sister looks much more mixed race than I do. My younger cousins are quite clearly mixed race with tan skin, dark eyes and Asian features. Their older sister is as blonde haired and blue eyed as you can get. Put us all together in a room and you would be forgiven for being confused as to which ones of us were siblings.

L-R, Me, my cousin Emma, my sister Lottie, my cousin Jamie and my cousin Joanna in their backgarden, circa 1998.

My grandmother is Burmese*. She came to England in 1956 with her husband (an architect born and raised in North London who worked in Burma for a number of years) and her oldest son. She had two more children after they settled in South East London; my mother and my youngest uncle.

L-R My mother, my grandfather, my Uncle Neil, my grandmother and my Uncle Mark on holiday, circa 1963

My grandmother assimilated quickly. She already spoke fluent, clipped English, was a trained, very bolshy, accountant, had long before stopped wearing her longhi in favour of short skirts and cigarette pants and was (and still is) a devout Catholic. She would however be frustrated for a long time by the lack of mangoes available in supermarkets and her joy when she could finally get her hands on some gulab jaman and balachang was palpable. Believe me, the smell of balachang on toast first thing in the morning is more effective at waking you up than an ice cold shower and my mother loves the vile stuff.

L-R my mother, my Uncle Mark, My Uncle Neil, my grandmother, Camber Sands, circa 1967.

My upbringing was very western. I was raised Catholic, went to a Catholic school, ate a roast dinner every Sunday and have very western ideals and beliefs. I have always been proud of the fact that I am a quarter Burmese though. Grandma insisted we call her ahpwa for a long time and would tell us stories of her childhood in Burma whilst bringing us bags full of mangoes ‘in case they ran out’. She lived an exceptionally privileged lifestyle. Her family were well off and she and her siblings all were given western first names (Joan, Patrick and Joyce).

My Great-Uncle Patrick, circa 1998 (my grandmother’s brother)

Having traditionally ‘British identifiers was seen as a mark of wealth and privilege, so she would tell me stories about the red double decker bus she had in the back garden as a ‘playhouse’ and the red phone booth as a ‘garden ornament’. They had cooks, cleaners and gardeners and lived in luxury until the arrival of the Second World War. After that, everything changed and she would tell me stories of foraging for mushrooms for dinner, sometimes helped by the Japanese soldiers whom she said were always very kind to the children they met. She also told me folk stories and I wish I could remember the details of them now as I can’t find them in any folktale book. The one that stands out to me was about the little boy who rescued a dying dragon by feeding him oranges. She would tell me to look at statues of dragons; they still have a small ball resting in their claw in remembrance of his kindness. I have a feeling she made most of this up as I can find no other reference to the myth, but I have always loved the idea.

L-R My mother, my Aunt Helena, my Uncle Mark, (unknown friend of my Grandmothers’), my Grandmother, my Uncle Neil. Sunday lunch at my house, circa 1987.

I remember listening to her and my ‘auntie’ Ruth (her best friend) reminisce over the fashion shows in Rangoon they went to as young women and the beauty competitions they entered. Ruth was always very dry and deprecating about them. My grandmother was still sore about the fact that Ruth won Miss Rangoon** instead of her.

My grandmother, aged about 19 in Rangoon, in traditional Burmese wedding attire. This was for a fashion show.

In the years following the war the family scattered. Half went to Australia and the others, along with some of their friends, came to Britain. I don’t know much about those early years. My mother doesn’t talk about it much, but I do know that they experienced undercurrents of racism throughout the late 50s, 60s and 70s. I still remember being about 8 years old, with my mother and younger sister in the supermarket and witnessing an exceptionally nasty altercation. My grandmother is not unbiased herself and had her own very strong, quite unpleasant racist prejudices that still manifest themselves to this day.

My parent’s wedding party in 1980. L-R my Uncle Fred and Aunt Yvonne (dad’s sister), Grandad Ray (dad’s dad), my grandmother Joan, my dad Rob, my mum Kim, my cousin Joanne, my Nan Nora (dad’s mum), my Grandad Roy (mum’s dad), my Uncle Mark, my Uncle Neil and my Uncle Terry (dad’s brother).

I feel connected, but at the same time strangely disconnected from my heritage. Our house growing up had a mixture of east and west influences. There was a lot of art and furniture bought over by my grandmother from Burma and Thailand. I have been ‘in training’ to develop my tolerance of spice since I was six. My favourite meal is a lamb biriyani (cooked by my mother, but it has to be made with left over roast lamb from the Sunday lunch). My mother used to send me to school with two flasks of it for lunch. One for me, and one for all my friends so that I could actually get a chance to eat mine. I had a scattering of Burmese words, all sadly now lost to time and memory.

L-R my mother, my grandmother and my Uncle Mark, circa 1958.

My mother went to Burma for the first time for her 60th birthday to fulfil a long held dream. She sent me pictures of the boat ride down the Irrawaddy, the puppet show in the restaurant and my grandmother’s birth house in Rangoon. There is a shop on the lower floor now. I know she feels the same sense of being torn between her identities but to a much stronger degree than I do.

My grandmother with my daughters at her house, Christmas 2021.

I have my own children now, and to see my grandmother with my daughters is both wonderful, but also strangely discombobulating. You would find it hard to tell they were related if I didn’t tell you. Nevertheless, I want to ensure they know where they come from and appreciate the richness of their inheritance. It is this blend of identities, the pulls to my grandmother’s heritage coupled with my own western upbringing and identity that makes the issue of finding the right tick box far more onerous than it has any right to be.

*Burma is now known as Myanmar but my grandmother only ever refers to it as Burma and herself as Burmese so that is what I use.

**Otherwise known as Yangon

This blog post forms part of a series exploring identity, culture and heritage as part of the University of Kent’s South Asian Heritage Week. This week runs from the 28 March -1 April 2022 and invites exploration of the identities, history and heritage of British South Asians.

For more events and activities please see Kent Union’s South Asian Heritage Week website.

Ben Cosh on guitar

Professor Ben Cosh’s Christmas single raises money for homeless charity

Professor Ben Cosh has written and performed a Christmas song Christmas is Coming, which has raised over £400 for Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity.

Ben is the Director of the Division of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and has been at the University and in his role leading CEMS since September 2021.

He said: ‘I write, play and record music in my spare time and this was a fun project including online collaboration with some friends. The song is about Christmas having two meanings; on the one hand family, gifts and wintertime, and on the other a celebration of the birth of Jesus, which means a lot to some of us.’

The song gathered some attention in his local area and was featured in the Henley Standard. Ben said: ‘I’m a little embarrassed really. The initial reason for doing it was just to enjoy creating the song and make some music with friends. The money raised so far has been a splendid bonus. I certainly wasn’t expecting my local newspaper to pick up on it. However, I’m glad they did as it has helped raise further funds for a cause that is worthy all year round.’

To donate to Shelter, click on Ben’s Just Giving link.

Farewell to Richard Bradford

From Trevor Pereira, Director of Commercial and Facilities Management

Richard Bradford, interim Director of Commercial Services, will be leaving the University at the end of his interim contract on 31 January 2022.

Richard has shepherded the Commercial function over a difficult year, and I would like to thank him for his hard work over this period.

We wish Richard all the best with his future endeavours.

Trevor Pereira | Director of Commercial and Facilities Management

 

Babatdor Dkhar

Babatdor Dkhar awarded Charles Wallace India Trust Fellowship

The Centres for Postcolonial Studies and Creative Writing have awarded the annual Charles Wallace India Trust Writing Fellowship to Babatdor Dkhar.

Since 1991, the Charles Wallace India Trust has sponsored a Fellowship at the University that enables a writer from India to come and work in Kent for the spring term. Additionally, they have the opportunity to present their work to staff and students in talks organised by Kent’s renowned Centres for Creative Writing and Postcolonial Studies.

Babatdor is a writer and filmmaker who studied Creative Writing at Oxford, has taught English in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, worked as an editor in New Delhi, and is the Founder of Ka Ktien Media and the Chief Editor of Half and One.

The Fellowship will enable Babatdor to live and work in Canterbury whilst writing his novel The Khasi Album which is set in Shillong, a town in the north east of India, and is a work of satire, black comedy, romance and tragedy.

As Babatdor says in his application, the novel tackles “the differences between East and West, nationalism and communalism, small-town mindsets and tribal minority sensibilities in an India that is completely different from the one that is portrayed in mainstream literature and media”.

Dr Matthew Whittle, lecturer in Postcolonial Literature and Director of the Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies says: ‘On behalf of the Centres for Postcolonial Studies and Creative Writing, I’m delighted to welcome Babatdor as this year’s Writing Fellow, and looking forward to fostering a creative voice from an under-represented region in Indian literature such as Shillong.

‘The standard of applicants this year was incredibly high, but Babatdor’s writing really stood out to the judging panel as exceptional. We look forward to his contributions to the rich community of creative writers and postcolonial scholars at the University of Kent, and we’ll be following his writing career with great interest!’

Professor Clive Church PolIR

Condolences for Professor Clive Church

The University was very sorry to hear of the death of Clive H Church, Emeritus Professor of European Studies.

Clive joined Kent from the University of Lancaster in 1981 as Senior Lecturer in European Studies, affiliated with the then European Studies unit in the School of European Culture and Languages. He was promoted to a professorship in 1992 and became a member of the Department (now School) of Politics and International Relations in 1996. Upon his retirement in 2003, he was appointed Emeritus Professor.

A historian by background, Clive became a leading scholar of Swiss history and politics and of European integration. Among his numerous works are The Politics and Government of Switzerland (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), Understanding the European Constitution (Routledge, 2006 – with David Phinnemore), A Concise History of Switzerland (Cambridge University Press, 2013 – with Randolph Head), and Political Change in Switzerland (Routledge, 2016).

He was an active member of the Channel Tunnel Research Unit from 1986-1993, a co-founder of the Kent Centre for Europe (a Jean Monnet Centre), which was in operation from 2000-2010, and of the Centre for Swiss Politics, in operation from 2003-2016. He remained very much active past his retirement and was planning to write on external views of Swiss politics at the time of his death.

Outside academia, Clive was much involved in the local community. He was the founder of the Alliance of Canterbury Residents’ Associations, an organisation which is still important and active today. He was also a key member of the Campaign for Democracy in the Canterbury district, where his understanding of political issues and processes made a valuable contribution. As the same time he was active in Thanington, the part of Canterbury where he lived, writing a history of the area and contributing to the parish council.

He will be fondly remembered by all those who knew him.

We express our deepest condolences to his daughters, Hilary and Joanna, and partner, Clare, and their families.

Dr Paolo Dardanelli | Deputy Head of School of Politics and IR

Picture shows: Clive with his granddaughter, Claudia

Keith Dimond

Condolences for Keith Dimond

The University was very sorry to hear of the death of Keith Dimond.

Former colleague, Mohamed Sobhy writes:

‘It is with sadness that I report that my friend and colleague Keith Dimond has passed away. Keith joined the University in 1971 as lecturer in the Electronics Laboratories (now the School of Engineering). Prior to joining, Keith worked at GCHQ in Cheltenham. I remember in his interview at Kent, Keith could not give the panel some details of his work, as it was classified. Nevertheless, the panel was so impressed by Keith’s personality and knowledge and had no hesitation in offering him the post.

‘Subsequently, Keith made a vital contribution to developing the teaching and research in the department, especially on the digital side and was promoted to a Senior Lectureship in recognition of his work. Keith also made a significant contribution to the administration of The Electronics Laboratories. For 10 years, during my term as director, Keith was deputy director and his help and support were vital to the smooth running of the department. I remember in particular, his help in preparing the application to the Institution of Electrical Engineers (now IET) for accrediting the new courses. Before his retirement, Keith became Master of Keynes College again using his personality and diplomacy to run the College smoothly and effectively.

‘Throughout my knowledge of Keith, I admired his manner of dealing with people in a diplomatic and kind manner that made him respected and loved by all his colleagues and students. Keith will be sadly missed by all who knew him.’

We express our condolences to his wife Judith, his two daughters Rachel and Fiona and their families.  

New Director of Division for Arts and Humanities

Congratulations to Professor Juliette Pattinson on her appointment as our new Director of the Division for Arts and Humanities.

Juliette, who is a Professor in the School of History, is currently the Deputy Director (People) in the Division and an AdvanceHE Chair for Athena Swan. She replaces Professor Simon Kirchin who will stand down at the end of the year.

Juliette says: ‘I am delighted to have been appointed as the new Divisional Director. I look forward to working with colleagues in championing the arts and humanities and to joining the Executive Group. This provides an exciting opportunity to work collaboratively to shape the future of our University and the Division in the next phase of our development.’

Juliette joined the University in 2013. She was Head of our School of History from 2015-20 and, before that, at the University of Strathclyde (2012-13).

Juliette completed her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Lancaster University in History and Women’s Studies and her PhD was a gendered oral history analysis of male and female secret agents in Nazi-occupied France. She is a socio-cultural historian of gender and war and has published on civilian men, uniformed women, partisan warfare, incarceration, national identity, cultural memory and oral history methodology.

Her monograph on the fabulously named FANYs (the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry), which examines the world’s longest established female military organisation as a case study of gender modernity, was published last year. Following a symposium held in Special Collections at Kent, she is completing an edited collection on British humour and the Second World War, which has offered some light relief over the last 21 months.

Outside work, Juliette is a keen cyclist and runner, loves scuba diving and yoga and enjoyed flying a Cessna recently. She is somewhat less enthusiastic about an upcoming skydive – something she has felt compelled to do since 1999 when she interviewed secret agents who parachuted behind enemy lines.