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Emeritus Professor Ian Law

Colleagues will be sorry to learn of the death, in March 2022, of Emeritus Professor Ian Law, former Professor of Racism and Ethnicity Studies in the School of Sociology and Social Policy.

Ian Law graduated from the University of Liverpool in Sociology and Geography and went on to obtain his doctorate there on White Racism and Black Settlement in Liverpool in 1985, under the supervision of Gideon Ben-Tovim. Whilst writing his PhD he carried out a Commission for Racial Equality investigation into racial discrimination in council housing in the city and went on to work for Merseyside Community Relations Council carrying out campaigning public education work. He subsequently moved to Leeds to work for the City Council as Director of the Race Equality Unit in the Housing Department, Inner City Task Force Coordinator for Chapeltown and Harehills and Director of Equality Services in Adult and Further Education. He worked closely with many Black and Minority Ethnic organisations across Leeds and this community engagement carried through into his research activities at the University.

Ian moved to Leeds University as a Lecturer in Social Policy in 1991 and became a Professor in Racism and Ethnicity Studies in 2010. During that time he was founding Director of both the Race and Public Policy Unit, in 1994, and the Centre for Racism and Ethnicity Studies, in 1998, and also acted as Head of Sociology and Social Policy from 2000-2003. He played a hugely significant leading role in establishing ethnicity and racism studies as a core part of teaching and research in SSP for many years. He led an internationally acclaimed HEFCE Innovations project on Building the Anti-Racist University from 2000-2004, which contributed to improved university responses to racial and ethnic diversity across the globe, and this was acknowledged, in terms of policy impact, by the Equality Challenge Unit, HEFCE and the Council of Europe. His continuing work in this field led to his appointment as an Honorary Professor at Nelson Mandela University, SA. Outside the HE sector his work was influential in shaping policy responses to issues of racism and ethnic diversity across many fields of public policy including hate crime, mental health, community care, housing and social security. Most recently he led the UK teams of two EU FP7 projects and led an eight country EU DJ project, all dealing with questions of understanding contemporary racisms and their substantive policy and everyday impact. In October 2018 he led a highly successful project presentation at the European Parliament on developing counter-narratives to Islamophobia in Europe.

Ian had a high international reputation for the study of racism in many under-researched national contexts across the world and his successful personal project of writing ten books in ten years between 2009 and 2019 on aspects of global racialisation has sealed this reputation. His work addressed racism in Russia, China, Cuba, Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Caribbean. He was a truly global scholar whose overall contribution to our understanding of the operation of racism across the planet has been acknowledged as immense. His best-selling book Racism and Ethnicity, global debates, dilemmas, directions (2010) epitomizes this approach and swift translation into Arabic by the University of Cairo is indicative of this international recognition. The founding editor of the leading journal in the field, Ethnic and Racial Studies, described this book as ‘concise, balanced and incorporating a genuinely global perspective’. He was a true inspiration for students and colleagues in this regard. The establishment of the Mapping Global Racisms Archive at Leeds and his editorship of the similarly titled Palgrave book series carried this project forward.

Ian retired in February 2019 after 28 years’ service to the University at which time he became an Emeritus Professor.