Dr David Macey: Internationally renowned French scholar
With the death of Dr David Macey, we have lost an internationally renowned scholar, author and translator, whose publications mapped and excavated the terrain of contemporary French intellectual and political debates.
His work was notable for the scope of the cultural and scholarly resources he brought to bear on complex and often dense topics, and for his eloquent and lucid writing which made these subjects accessible and pleasurable for a readership beyond the academy. Students around the world find their journeys into and through these debates much more navigable and engaging as a result of his Dictionary of Critical Theory (2000).
In Macey's biographies of Foucault (1993, 2004), Lacan (1988) and Fanon (2000), he offered original and often startling narratives of their lives, discourses and projects. For example, his early Lacan in Context was a critical challenge to more orthodox interpretations, as he explored unacknowledged influences such as surrealism on Lacan's work.
His abiding interest in Michel Foucault led to two books, many articles and interviews. His longer work on Foucault, The Lives of Michel Foucault, in 1993, was declared by the Times Literary Supplement to be "The best Foucault biography to appear in English." With Franz Fanon: A Life, Macey invoked a more overt political engagement and took his work to a new audience. It reshaped our understanding of this important political figure.
Macey also published under a pseudonym a personal account of the joys and traumas of family life with adopted children, unflinchingly describing the difficulties of family life with children who had had damaging starts.
His academic career culminated in his appointments as a research associate in the Department of French at Leeds University in 1995 and as a special professor in translation at the University of Nottingham in 2010. Alongside producing original books, articles and reviews in journals ranging from Radical Philosophy to Theory, Culture and Society, he was an accomplished translator. He translated over 60 books and innumerable articles from the French.
An unassuming demeanour belied his intelligence and curiosity. His friends recall his dry and allusive humour, his playfulness in conversation and his ability to produce pithy and incisive commentary: all these characteristics bubble through his writing.
Macey was born in Sunderland in 1949, but was raised in the mining community of Houghton-le-Spring; he attended Durham Johnston Grammar School then studied French at University College London for his undergraduate degree and PhD. This background helped to shape his personal qualities and his politics. His father went down the pit at 14; his mother could not take up a scarce place at grammar school because of the cost. A loving older sister, a warm extended family, and the strength and resilience of the mining community gave him a sense of solidarity and determination.
As a student Macey was involved in the political protests and movements of that time, as well as local campaigns in Chalk Farm and Brixton. He was prominent in study groups exploring the intersections of Marxism, structuralism and post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, feminism and what is now called "post-colonialism".
He became a founding member of the British Campaign for an Independent East Timor in 1975. Dr Jose Ramos-Horta, president of Timor-Leste and 1996 Noble Laureate, fondly recalls his role. "In those terrible early years, from 1975 to 1980, there were few people who knew about East Timor and its struggle for human rights ... Dave Macey was one of our earliest supporters."
Macey's passion and devotion centred on his partner and wife of 38 years, Margaret Atack, Professor of French at Leeds University; they moved from London to Leeds, then Sunderland, before settling in Leeds as she pursued her academic career and he focused on his translations and writing.
Macey had a luxuriant hinterland. He was an inventive and serious cook; he loved watching rugby; he needed music, especially jazz and blues, as a vital component of his daily life.
David Macey, scholar, author and translator: born Sunderland 5 October 1949; married Margaret Atack (three adopted children); died Leeds 7 October 2011.
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Migrants crossing the Mediterranean: Pope Francis joins calls for EU action on boat refugees
Yemen crisis: Meet the child soldiers who have forsaken books for Kalashnikovs
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Isis in Afghanistan: Group claims responsibility for Jalalabad suicide bombing that killed 35
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...