I am tempted to think Anthropology at Goldsmiths might be cursed.
A friend and former student, Rosie Wright, was killed on Friday – she was on her bike in traffic – riding on these London roads that are too full of Capitalism transporting its abundance of product in huge lorries, with wide bus lanes to get us to work or to the shops, but insufficient space for bikes, inadequate bike lanes, and too little space for pedestrians as well, as it happens. She was too young. Gutted.
We just had a meeting on saturday to talk through her MA plans; another long discussion over food – we’d bought various delicacies from the local Italian deli – artichoke pate, parma ham, a baguette, asparagus and three cheeses. That such lunches are over is unforgivable.
I do not understand how or why this can happen to the brilliant ones – Roh earned a First Class Honours degree graduating (2003), the year after Imogen, with similarly brilliant marks and having been at many Left political demonstrations, events, solidarity campaigns, etc., she wrote great things for the PubliCity section of Left Curve… Her critical engagement was always at the same time generous, considerate, and inspiring. I wish I had that some of that grace..
I will put some of her published work from Left Curve on another page (here), and there will be a second piece from the new edition published soon, I think on 2 April. I do not know when the funeral is yet, but I know there are so many people viciously wounded by this tragic loss that … there is nothing to it but anger… and wrenching anguish for her family and (so many) others that were close…
Added 16 March: Asked to write something for the funeral the best I could come up with (I wish it was far better) was this:
I am distraught writing this for many reasons, but not least among them is that Roh’s death means the loss of another of our most gentle and generous revolutionaries and one who had not given up on the project of inspiring others – and institutions – to do better. Having a critique of anthropology or of the power games, sexism and racism of the university is one thing, but remaining generous and optimistic within it is inspiring.
Roh wrote an amazing final year dissertation – another of her papers which achieved first class marks – it was on the limits built into the institutionalisation and commercialization of knowledge, yet she did not ever give up looking for more. In theatre or performance, in film or the craft of writing, in solidarity movements or issues of sexuality, Roh’s critical sensibility was uniquely open – never a condemnation. Even when critical of herself she retained this amazing openness which I would – will forever – strive to emulate. While learning she taught. What we have lost then is a possibility of a humanistic resuscitation of the university – Roh was discussing ideas for a Masters degree with many of her friends in the past few weeks, and even this was undertaken in an open way as a kind of group survey, as a process of gathering and sifting advice as a shared project. Roh bought her generosity and community to the life of ideas – passionately, excitedly and gracefully – what we have lost cannot be measured.
Her results in essays were measured in fact – a range of the very highest marks of course. A first class honours degree and a grant for postgraduate study beckoned – but these incidentals were second to her interests, enthusiasms, ideas and plans… She is another stolen from us, too young, too brilliant…
Update 10 June: Roh Zine draft here.