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An Academic Skating on Thin Ice

An Academic Skating on Thin Ice

Peter Worsley
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    An Academic Skating on Thin Ice
    Book Description:

    Peter Worsley's studies at Cambridge were interrupted by war service as a communist officer in the colonial forces in Africa and India, and it was here that he developed a keen interest in anthropology. He work in mass education in Tanganyika and then studied with Max Gluckman at Manchester University. Banned from re-entering Africa, Worsley went to Australia where he was banned once more, this time from New Guinea, yet he did succeed in completing field-research for his Ph.D. on an Australian Aboriginal tribe.

    His subsequent book on 'Cargo' cults in Melanesia is now regarded as a classic, but his left-wing politics ensured that he could not get a job in anthropology, so he switched to sociology, on his return to Manchester.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-064-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Liverpool, My World
    (pp. 1-19)

    I grew up in Wallasey, Cheshire, in a middle-class environment. Liverpool, I ought to point out, is a shorthand for Merseyside; only,part of it. The south of the Mersey river, though economically dominated by Liverpool, is part of the Wirral, that quadrilateral bit of Cheshire which sticks out into the Irish Sea.

    Liverpool might have been the greatest seaport in Europe, but its hegemony had always been challenged; initially by other new industrial cities, notably Manchester and Bristol. One cultural outcome was the rivalry between Manchester United (and even Manchester City), on the one hand, and Liverpool (and even Everton)...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Cambridge and the Army
    (pp. 20-51)

    In January 1942, I took the train to Cambridge for the third time, this time, however, to stay for the whole academic year as an undergraduate. I can still remember the names of the stations the porters called out along the interminable route after leaving the main line at Bletchley (oddly enough, the jumping-off station for Oxford too): ‘Woburn Sands!’ ‘Gamlingay!’ ‘Sandy!’ ‘Bedford!’.

    The first sign that the War had caught up with Cambridge came straight away. No longer was there the prospect of three years of study. We had to join the Cambridge University Training Corps, which involved elementary...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Peace and the Cold War
    (pp. 52-78)

    Then it was Cambridge once more – ‘Bletchley!’, ‘Woburn Sands!’, ‘Gamlingay!’, ‘Sandy!’, ‘Bedford!’

    Men of my father’s generation never talked about the trenches of Flanders. At lunchtime back at College on the first day, though, I sat down at the Refectory table with another officer, also still in uniform. (He later became a Tory MP.) He asked me what kind of a war I had had, and I said I had to admit that it hadn’t been bad – hadn’t had to fire a shot in anger, and I’d seen a lot of interesting places. ‘My war was very different’, he said....

  9. CHAPTER 4 Australia: Into the Lion’s Den
    (pp. 79-98)

    Going to Australia, I realised, might mean an interesting job but it would also be walking into trouble because I had visas from East European countries in my passport. Australia, under Sir Robert Menzies (known on the Left as ‘Pig-iron Bob’, because he had sold that commodity to Japan – which duly returned it to Australia in the form of bombs on Australia’s Far North), made Britain look like a liberal Paradise. It was great visiting Gibraltar, Ceuta, Naples, Sorrento, Herculaneum and Pompeii, then, once more, Suez, where I had first entered the Empire (I hadn’t popularised the term ‘Third World’...

  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. 99-112)
  11. CHAPTER 5 Out of Anthropology, into Sociology
    (pp. 113-146)

    Merseyside was a shocking sight. No longer were there sleek Atlantic vessels in the harbour; there were hardly any vessels at all. Even the ferries had been sadly reduced. Tate and Lyle’s was closed; so were the thirteen miles of docks and the Overhead Railway which served them. The population had sunk from well over a million to eight hundred thousand.

    We were lucky with employment. Sheila, with a young baby, couldn’t do her work as an almoner, and when she did eventually start work again we always moved so she had to give up her job. Max, fortunately, had...

  12. CHAPTER 6 Manchester University: Upheaval
    (pp. 147-178)

    Back in the 1950s in Hull, where this interest in Cyprus had begun, I had been moving steadily up the promotion ladder, without making any special effort, because I was very happy with my position. To a young teacher, it was a cycle of new people and new ideas – not a treadmill – with a constant flood of talks, visits to other universities, the very hard grind of examining, sometimes, excitingly, abroad. Then suddenly out of the blue I got an invitation to come for an interview for the new Chair of Sociology at the University of Manchester. I had just...

  13. CHAPTER 7 Latin America
    (pp. 179-211)

    After fourteen years of departmental work, I was finally punished with an absolutely unavoidable sentence – two years as Dean – a relief from routine departmental admin and internecine theoretical squabbles, but with its own new miseries, reflected in the ‘Don’s Diary’ I wrote for theTimes Higher Educational Supplementa few months later: a litany of complaints about the books, articles, essays and theses which ‘descended like hail, and the piles of unread offprints and unanswered letters that inched heavenwards’; brief hours interrupted by having to break off to attend a meeting, by phone calls ad nauseam, or by student sit-ins,...

  14. CHAPTER 8 Globalisation
    (pp. 212-227)

    I returned to Manchester armed with the material I had collected on a whole continent new to me, Latin America, and immediately got down to work on thoroughly reworking my original book on the Third World.

    When I first wrote about Afro-Asian societies, this was seen by many sociologists as merely a branch of the historiography of colonial society, not proper sociology. But Jamil Hilal, a Jordanian postgraduate who later worked for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, soon showed me that the study of post-colonial societies was morphing into a new field of study called ‘development studies’ and, in particular, a...

  15. CHAPTER 9 London Town
    (pp. 228-274)

    In Manchester, I had been constantly badgered on the phone by a Ghanaian, Kofi Buenor Hadjor, who was starting a new journal, theThird World Book Review, so I gave Sheila strict instructions that she was to divert him if he continued to ring me in London. I didn’t allow for his elemental force, however, which was quite equal to that of Teodor. Before long, I was Chairman of theReview, though this only entailed as much time as I was prepared to give, and I lived near the fine office, anyhow. Kofi, in any case, ran things like a stereotypical...

  16. Notes and References
    (pp. 275-282)