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In Memoriam: Professor Zig Layton-Henry

Zig Layton-Henry (BA Birmingham, PhD Birmingham), Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Warwick, was born on 28 August 1942 to a Polish father and Scottish mother. In 1968, Zig joined what was then the Politics Department at Warwick. Zig’s initial research was on youth movements in political parties. His key contribution, however, was in the field of race in British politics where he was a scholar of very significant national and international standing.

Zig developed an acute understanding of governmental policies and their effects upon Black and ethnic minority communities in England. Despite his outstanding contribution to the understanding of race relations in British politics, Zig was always very modest about his work. He published a number of well received books – such as The Politics of Race in Britain (George Allen & Unwin, 1984) and The Politics of Immigration: Race and Race Relations in Post-War Britain (Blackwell, 1992) – co-edited the leading book series in that area, and supervised doctoral students. Zig also led and reenergised the Warwick ESRC Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations, particularly encouraging young scholars to participate in its work, attracting prestigious overseas scholars to Warwick and running a number of high-profile academic and policy-related events.

Zig was always very popular and extremely well appreciated among the doctoral students he supervised. Several kept in touch with him over the years after their successful completion, even to the extent of inviting him to their home country to give guest appearances. Colleagues across the institution remember him as ‘a global superstar’, ‘collegial’, ‘a true gentleman’, and, first and foremost, a ‘very decent person’.

Shirin Rai, Professor of Politics and International Studies at Warwick, commented: ‘Zig was a kind and generous colleague, with a gentle manner and good humour, but his political commitment to race equality was however fierce and steadfast’.

William Paterson, former Chair of PAIS and now Honorary Professor of German and European Politics at Aston University, said: ‘Zig was a good scholar and an excellent person -he played a key role at an important juncture in the history of the Department’.

As PAIS continues to enjoy sustained success across education and research, we remember and celebrate the life and contribution of a founding figure and one of our most distinguished colleagues.

Professor Nick Vaughan-Williams
Head of Department
11 September, 2020

If you knew Zig and are affected by this news, there is a range of University support available to all staff and students. The Wellbeing Support Services website gives more details about support available, or you can contact the team on 024 76 575570, ext. 75570.

Mon 14 Sep 2020, 09:52 | Tags: Staff