Roh Wright

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:

For Rosie.

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.


12 thoughts on “Roh Wright

  1. “I do not understand how or why this can happen to the brilliant ones”

    “When medical professionals and concerned bystanders say ‘you’re so young! you’re so intelligent! you can’t die – you have so much to live for!’. I wonder if they tell older stupider people ‘go for it!’.”

    – Inkybloater on alt.suicide.methods, Dec 21 2001

    Other than this I totally agree that the auto-roads are capitalism’s trenches. My sincere condolences.



  2. Rosie was not just intelligent but also beautiful. She was fun, passionate and free spirited!!!!

    A friend of mine who only ever met Roh at my cousins wedding some 5 years ago said she remembered Rosie “as the really sweet caring one”.

    I have lovely memories of her, and I’m glad I still have them!

    She will sincerely be missed!



  3. My abiding memory of Rosie is how passionate she was about learning. It’s hard to accept that someone so talented and with such a bright future ahead of them could be taken in this way. As Tia has said, Rosie will be sincerely missed.


  4. Like Tahiyya and Kevin, I was lucky enough to be at Uni with Rosie. I knew her as a warm, naturally beautiful, easy-going young woman with a brilliant mind and a great future of possibilities stretching ahead of her.

    My words can’t do Rosie justice here, and I keep veering into anger and disbelief, but seeing these pictures, I think that her smile perhaps sums Rosie up best. I remember Rosie smiling.

    Thank you, John, for this space, and to Rosie’s family and close friends, my thoughts are with you.



  5. John, I just saw your blog about Rosie. Unbelievable. She was in my first ever seminar I taught, and almost single-handedly made me confident about teaching, thanks to her smile and engagement. I kept up with her through the years, and can’t believe I won’t be seeing her around Goldsmiths and hearing more of her adventures and plans. She had so much going for her, and so much to offer.

    I am angry that I can’t find any news of this. I know that cycling in London is dangerous for the reasons you point out and that there must be “accidents” like this often (too often); that they don’t seem to qualify as newsworthy seems to be part of the problem too.


  6. I first met Rosie in halls in Rac Mac, our rooms were on the same floor. As we introduced ourselves, I remember hoping the other anthropology students I had not yet met would be just as forthcoming and friendly.

    Rosie was genuine and kind and an absolute pleasure to be around. She never had a bad word to say about anyone and she treated people with the same respect, which is the true mark of a beautiful person. This is how I remember Rosie and it makes me smile.

    My sincere condolences to her family and her friends

    Priscilla x


  7. I only met Roie on a couple of occasions yet I sit here tears in my eyes att the loss off such a kind caring person!


  8. I feel terrible and shocked as all of you, I remember Rosie at uni, she was brilliant at seminars very intelligent and such a lovely girl. It just makes me so angry

    My sincere condolences to her family and friends



  9. If you knew Roh and want details of the funeral, send me an email. The details will not be posted here, but email will get you them. Thanks to all who have commented – this is my diary really, even if public, but it sure is a painful one at times.


  10. the last time i commented on here was for imogen, and now for rosie…

    she was an amazing beautiful person, impressively intelligent, sincere, compassionate, genuinely wonderful. if her family and friends are reading this i would like to offer my condolences. the world was blessed by her being a part of it. take good care of yourselves. mine and everyone else’s thoughts are with you


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