A DAY TO HONOUR THE LIFE AND WORK OF PROFESSOR MICHAEL BANTON (1926-2018)

Call for Papers. Deadline 10 June 2019.

In 2018, we were very sorry to lose our former president, Professor Michael Banton. Additionally the winner of the RAI Lucy Mair medal in 2013, it may truly be said that throughout his entire academic career he fought to impede or alleviate racism. He did so without the slightest drop in academic standards. Indeed, it may be stated conversely, that he began his deliberations by regarding racism as a problem that needed to be solved, and developed a sophisticated intellectual appreciating how this might be done.


This has resulted in literally hundreds of first class articles, and some twenty books in a publishing career which spanned five decades, beginning with The Coloured Quarter (1955), continuing with famous works such as Race Relations (1967) and concluding with The International Politics of Race (2002). This extra-ordinary oeuvre was paralleled in an equally distinguished academic career. Michael conducted his first research on immigrants in the East End of London, for which he received his PhD from the University of Edinburgh. He looked, already at that time, not just at the immigrants but at the attitude of the British toward these immigrants. Similarly, he wrote the first full-length modern study of the police in his book The Policeman in the Community.

In 1965, Michael was promoted a Chair at the University of Bristol, where he remained for the rest of his academic career, building up a department that combined anthropology and sociology to become one of the strongest in the country. His great contribution was recognised by becoming Dean, and then Pro-Vice Chancellor. Simultaneously, he became a magistrate, and served with distinction for many years on the bench, bringing his sympathetic anthropological expertise directly to the service of the public good.

Professor Banton was President of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 1987-89, and President of the Sociology section, (1970–71) and the Anthropology section, (1985–86) within the British Association for the Advancement of Science. He was President of the Ethnic, Race and Minority Relations section of the International Sociological Association 1990-94, and Director of the Social Science Research Council Research Unit on Ethnic Relations, 1970-78. He was also a member the Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination between 1996-98. To this date, we believe that he remains the first and last British chair of a United Nations committee.

Throughout his career Michael was a teacher, writer, intellectual, and finally a leading architect of anti-racist policies not just in this country, but globally. Toward the end of his life, he once again became very active at the RAI, and made a profound contribution to the work of the archive committee and to the conception of our ‘history days’, which are mapping the intellectual development of the institute.

On Thursday 10 October 2019, we should like to hold a one-day workshop at the RAI exploring his works and career. Papers may consist of discussions of his written work and ideas, reminiscences of his teaching, or of his contribution to the discipline more widely.

Abstracts and titles please of about 75 words should be submitted by 10 June 2019 in order to permit us to plan for the day. The address they should be sent to is admin@therai.org.uk

There is no conference fee, and refreshments will be provided on the day. Booking information will be published once the programme is set.