Imogen Bunting

This is a pic of Imogen with Brian and Cinzia (top) and Imogen and many of her graduating year in the back field behind Goldsmiths (bottom – pics by Sheila).

I am not just quoting when I repeat what I have heard from so many people: I cannot believe she is gone.

Below – today – an obituary in The Guardian

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Imogen Bunting

by Sue White Friday July 14, 2006

Imogen Bunting, who has died aged 25 following a heart attack, was a courageous peace activist, a brilliant academic and a loving daughter, sister and friend. She possessed a sense of social justice and compassion for her fellow human beings, along with a joy and passion for life. Her gift was to see and encourage the best in people.

Imogen packed an enormous amount into her life. She was born at Dartington, in Devon, and during her time there experienced a strong sense of international community and sharing. She shone at Knowles Hill school, Newton Abbot, and in the sixth form became a moving force in politics and human rights. From this time she pursued and developed her love of art, music and drama.

In 1998 she was the youngest of the winners of a writing competition. The prize was a place on the Japanese peace boat, travelling around the world taking practical aid to poor communities. It was a turning point in Imogen’s life; she developed the conviction that we can change both the world and ourselves. In 1999 she went to Dharamsala, in India, where she taught Tibetan Buddhist nuns English and how to use the internet.

Imogen studied anthropology at Goldsmiths College, London. Here she met and lived with an international group of friends – she enjoyed the diversity and opportunities that city life offered for thought, music, art, film and culture. She graduated with a first-class degree in 2002, achieving the highest mark in the 25-year history of the anthropology department. Along with her studies, she also took on political activism and protest as part of her life.

In 2003, she spent five months in Chiapas, Mexico, doing volunteer work and preliminary research for her intended doctoral project. In just a few months she became a fluent Spanish speaker and acted as a translator and international observer. Back in England, she brought her brilliance, learning and political activism to her job with the TUC (2003-2004), helping to develop a new equality project. She helped to organise the first trade union youth camp at Tolpuddle, in Dorset.

With a prize fellowship to the New School for Social Research in New York, Imogen began her MA and PhD studies in anthropology in 2004, focusing on the political legacies of internationalism in the contemporary context of globalisation. She found a new international community; she was interested in how poor and powerless people can resist and how that resistance can inform hope.

Imogen’s MA examination again achieved the highest grade ever awarded by her department. The New School has set up a permanent fellowship in her name devoted to ethics and social justice in scholarship.

On February 10 she suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed in the street in New York. She went into a coma for many days; the prognosis was poor. She was brought back to hospital in England, where she continued to defy the medical predictions, and achieved a miraculous recovery. She was back, as if in a second life. She died, unexpectedly, from another massive cardiac arrest early on April 23.

Imogen lived her life to the full. She loved life even though she had a deep connection with its sadness and injustices. Her beautiful smile and the attention she gave to everyone lit their hearts. She enriched the lives of so many people, and was herself enriched by them. She is survived by her parents, Angela and John, and her brother Freddy.

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Well done Sue White. Links to Imogen’s writing here, and here; comments about her from friends here and here.

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