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In Memoriam: Professor Annie Phizacklea

C.W.’s remembrance of Professor Annie Phizacklea

Annie came to Warwick in 1984, after a PhD at Exeter in Political Science, and a period as a researcher at Bristol, where her widening outlook was much influenced by Michael Banton (as she later wrote in a tribute to him published in 2018). Annie’s career at Warwick, which included extensive teaching in the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations (CRER), was interrupted by several years as a professor of sociology at Leicester University (1994-99), where she continued her interest in homeworking through research with Alan Felstead, Nick Jewson and Sally Walters.

I first met Annie when we were both members of the steering committee of the National Homeworking Group in the mid 1980s, but I came to know her much better after I joined the Sociology department at Warwick in 1985, when she, with typical generosity, invited me to stay with her family while I commuted from London. She had been working in the Sociology department for only a year at that point but was already central to the creation of its lively and supportive atmosphere under Bob Burgess’s headship. After returning to Warwick in 1999, she served a stint as Acting Director of the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender (CSWG) during Terry Lovell’s leave of absence, and then for various periods as departmental director of research or director of the graduate school. She had many other responsibilities over time, including serving as a member of one of the RAE panels and on a search committee for the Warwick vice-chancellorship, but she always treated these as practical necessities rather than opportunities for status. Her influence on staff and PhD students was formative, especially her democratic ethos, her concern for students’ well-being and her down-to-earth confidence in others.

The work we did together for Homeworking Women: Gender, Racism and Class at Work (1995), as the subtitle shows, fit well within the continuing development of Annie’s research interest on the intersections of gender, ethnicity, migration and work. Her work with Robert Miles on labour migration and her own emphasis on the experience of women migrants was pathbreaking, including, with Robert Miles, White Man’s Country: Racism in British Politics (1987) and her edited collection One Way Ticket: Migration and Female Labour (1983). To these were added her book with Sallie Westwood, Transnationalism and the Politics of Belonging (2000); her work with Eleanor Kofman, Parvati Raghuram and Rosemary Sales, Gender and International Migration in Europe (2001); and her research with Bridget Anderson on migrant domestic workers (1997). Her book Unpacking the Fashion Industry (1990) displayed the same rigour and accessibility as all her other work. She was also a key contributor to Women in the Face of Change: Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China (1992), edited by Annie Phizacklea, Hilary Pilkington and Shirin Rai.

Besides these academic interests I need to mention the centrality of parenthood in Annie’s life: her devotion to her son Ben and her two grandchildren. I also remember Annie’s gift for sparking friendship, not only with the academics whose research she fostered, but also with her neighbours in Leamington and Spain, her swimming chums, other chemo patients and many others. She had many non-academic interests: she was a keen swimmer and printmaker and, after retirement, published a novel based on her research on migrant domestic workers, Time to Stop Running (2016).

Annie retired in 2008 due to severe back pain that made it difficult for her to continue academic research, although this was ultimately rectified by surgery. Then, over 2020-21 her successful treatment for cancer led to troublesome side effects. Nonetheless, she managed to sustain a very practical and positive attitude. For me, her bravery in accepting the risks of treatment for both conditions was characteristic of her upbeat approach to life’s challenges.

Mon 11 Sep 2023, 14:00 | Tags: Staff