In Memoriam - Professor Robert Fine
Emeritus Professor Robert Fine, who has died aged 72, was a stalwart of the Warwick sociology department for four decades. He joined the department in 1973 after being recruited from Columbia University, New York by John Rex. Robert’s early publications were in the areas of crime and deviance, labour and trade unions, and Marxism; he never left these behind but his range of reference expanded well beyond them, especially in later years. His first important publications, Democracy and the Rule of Law (1984) and Policing the Miners Strike (1985), edited with Robert Millar, and Beyond Apartheid: Labour and Liberation in South Africa (1990), demonstrated his ability to combine two pairs of skills: on the one hand he married a capacity for theorizing to an openness to the results of empirical research; on the other he maintained a healthy balance between individual scholarship and collaborative work. There followed Civil Society: democratic perspectives (1997) edited with Shirin Rai, Social Theory After the Holocaust (2000), edited with Charles Turner, Political Investigations: Hegel, Marx, Arendt (2001), Cosmopolitanism (2007), and shortly before his death a book jointly authored with Philip Spencer, Antisemitism and the left (2017).
Robert was a scholar, a teacher, an activist on behalf of many causes, and a lover of life, and as those who worked with him and studied under him will attest, he saw no reason to keep these roles separate from one another. He worked closely with colleagues in other departments, notably history, law and politics, and at other institutions, and two generations of students benefited from his enthusiasm, his readiness to give his time, and his willingness to listen to them as well as instruct them. As head of department he was supportive of colleagues in ways the others often never knew about, and during his tenure he never abandoned the idea of the university as an institution of higher learning, inquiry and curiosity. A great presence at international conferences, and a cultivated man as well as a scholar and teacher, he will be remembered with affection, both by those whose path he crossed only briefly and by those who worked with him every day.