Jayaben Desai passes away. Ms. Desai came to national prominence in the UK for her leading role in the 1976-78 strike at Grunwick Processing's photo processing labs in North London, a dispute that shattered stereotypes about south Asian women workers in Britain, in the face of police violence, the antics of the McWhirter brothers and ambiguous support from the official trade union movement. [more inside]
Alan Sillitoe dies. The acclaimed English working class writer was perhaps best known for Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958) and short story The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner (1959) (as both were later successfully adapted as films), but Sillitoe was also playwright, poet, travel writer and children's book author. D. J. Taylor does the man justice in an article for the TLS from 2008 when Sillitoe turned 80.
Marek Edelman dies aged 90. A leader of the Jewish Fighting Organisation in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Dr. Edelman survived to later fight in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising and in the post-war years was a key figure in preserving the memory of his fallen comrades-in-arms.
His photographs recorded life along the Scotswood Road, the working class district in the West End of Newcastle made famous in Geordie song. James (Jimmy) Forsyth had come to make his home there having volunteered for war work as a fitter in one of the local factories, moving up to Newcastle from his native South Wales. In 1954, aware that change was coming and no longer working having lost an eye in an industrial accident, Forsyth began to document his community and surroundings. A self-taught photographer, Jimmy "picked up a cheap folding camera in one of the pawn shops. There wasn’t much to adjust, just as well, because I’ve never known what to do...I’m just an amateur...just capturing what I knew was going to disappear." Jimmy died last Saturday, aged 95.
Giovanni Arrighi, the renowned authority in the fields of world systems analysis and historical sociology, died earlier this month. A retrospective interview on his intellectual trajectory was published in the March/April 2009 issue of New Left Review. A major international conference was held in his honour in late May in Madrid, featuring several top scholars in an exploration of the insights of Arrighi’s work.