I can’t reconcile this at all – impossible and horrible that we (all crushed) have lost another great comrade. I can’t see how he had the time, but Paul was often a commentator on this blog. But importantly – among so very very much else that’s nearly impossible to list – Paul was key to organising so many events, actions, interventions. Small examples I saw – he was an instrumental voice in preparing the Migrating University/No Borders conference at Goldsmiths in September last year. The year before he was involved with the declaration of the traffic island in New cross as a site of buried treasure, pirate picnics and other free events on behalf of the Town Hall Pirates group he’d started. He helped open the “Failing Better” conference at Goldsmiths with his talk on the town hall slaver statues in 2006… and… annnd… more and more (see below)… I remember him best as the energy behind the Battle of Lewisham 77 walk and subsequent conference – seeing him at the organising meetings for these events with his usual unstoppable enthusiasm. Of course it took a lorry to stop him… That he can just be dead is incomprehensible, terrible, wrong.
The picture accompanying this post shows Paul in key position, immediately beside the megaphone at an activist event he orchestrated. This is the Battle of Lewisham walk, just outside the New Cross Inn. A sunny day in September.
Sophie Day – head of Anthropology Department, said to repost her letter below. I do so with a heavy heavy heart… and growing anger at the very personal way life is conspiring to take the best away from us. Thoughts to his wife Sasha and tiny daughter Agatha.
This is the letter I have sent to other Heads of Department for circulation to colleagues and students.
I am writing to tell you the very sad news of Paul Hendrich’s death. He was killed in a bicycle accident yesterday (Wednesday 16th January).
Many of you knew Paul and his death is a deep loss to us all. Paul was a very special person with some extremely rare qualities. His life was committed to engaging an everyday struggle against racism. His dissertation for the MA Applied Anthropology and Community and Youth Work, ‘Charting a new course for Deptford Town Hall’ (2006), developed through a campaign he initiated with the student union and led to further work commemorating the bicentenary of the abolition of the British transatlantic slave trade, including the Sankofa Reconciliation Walk in chains to Deptford Town Hall that he organised. He then hosted a conference at Goldsmiths to commemorate the Battle of Lewisham. Just before he died, he began a refugee health drop-in service in South London. Paul held a passionate belief that anthropology could and should be used for, and rethought through, the struggle against racism and it is this that guided his engagement with academia and his commitment to youth work. He deeply touched the lives of the staff and students at Goldsmiths as well as community activists by his commitment to this cause through campaigns, talks and conferences that he organised and participated in.
Paul completed his Masters with a distinction, a fact that he was quietly proud of, especially since he was the first person in his family to go to university. His brilliant dissertation will be published in the April issue of Anthropology Matters with an editorial from Alpa Shah. Goldsmiths Anthropology was particularly fortunate that Paul decided to pursue a PhD with us. At the time of his death, he was preparing to sail to Arizona, USA to research the various forms of activism that have taken shape around undocumented cross-border migration of Mexicans into the US.
Paul’s enthusiasm, generosity, kindness and inclusiveness drew everyone he met into the broader issues that he was thinking about and working on and those who were fortunate to know him could appreciate what a great youth worker he was and what a great field researcher he would have been. Paul’s research would have continued to make us rethink the theoretical and practical issues of engaging anthropology as praxis, and his death will be deeply mourned throughout Goldsmiths.
Paul was 36 years old; he was married to Sasha and had a one-year old daughter, Agatha. Sasha returned to work from maternity leave last week.
We shall write to Sasha shortly and are happy to forward letters you would like to send independently. Please mark envelopes for Sasha and leave at the Anthropology Office. We are organising a collection to which you are all invited to contribute via Sam Kelly (firstname.lastname@example.org), which we shall forward to Sasha on Monday 28th January.
I shall write again as soon as we have news about the funeral arrangements.
I am sure you all join us in extending deep sympathy to Paul’s family,
Sophie Day on behalf of the Anthropology Department
Paul/Migrating University (including translations which Paul helped collect).
Paul/Town Hall Trauma of History, See the forthcoming April issue of Anthropology Matters for Paul’s writing on this.
saturday 9th February 10.30 start in Great Hall Goldsmiths
and reception 3-6pm at Lansdowne Youth Centre