In Tribute to Adrian Leftwich
We have created this space in response to the many many messages of tribute and remembrance we have received about our great friend and inspirational Research Director, Adrian Leftwich, who passed away on the 2nd April 2013. It begins with some touching words from his children.
My Dad was my rock. He was always there for me and was always trying to help me with anything I was doing. When I was at school he would always take the time to help me with my studies, Following school I began a career in the music industry which Dad was always supportive of. He took the time to befriend everyone I worked with and always listened and advised me on my songs. My Dad believed passionately in the values of kindness, equality and peace and will be sorely missed. His spirit will live on and continue to help people. He was the kindest and most thoughtful person I ever met and I love him.
My Dad was my whole world. We were best friends. We called ourselves the 'Dream team' as that is exactly what we were. My first instinct is to say that Dad has taught me everything I know about the world, but on reflection this isn't the case. What my Dad has taught me is to think, to ask, to develop a passion for the desire to understand. For the last twenty two years, I have been in complete and utter awe of my Dad. He has always cared so deeply about doing good in, and for this world, and showing love and care in the most wonderful of ways. I have learnt more from Dad than anyone else on this planet. He has offered me so much direction and inspiration, and that has led me to my degree in Social Anthropology at LSE. It has been a beautiful blessing for me over the last few years to be able to share, exchange and develop our ideas together about things ranging from development, to marriage rituals in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, to issues of social justice to where my path may lead in the future. One thing is for sure, my path will be graced with all the love, nurture, guidance, kindness and wisdom my Dad shared with me throughout my life. I am so honoured to be able to call myself my father's daughter. This world is not a darker place without him, but a much brighter and warmer place to have been blessed with his presence on this Earth. I love you forever. Dream Team.
A real tragedy. My husband and I were just talking about Adrian recently - about how humble and down to earth an academic he was, yet with such depth and breadth of knowledge and a desire to create and inspire others to create new understanding.
Susy Ndauhutse - CfBT
Adrian was an excellent colleague-from-a-distance, both as a source of inspiration and ideas and as an excellent External Examiner to the IDS Masters programme in Governance and Development. I feel enriched through having known and worked with him.
Mick Moore - IDS
This is a terrible news...I'm from Mexico, and in the last years, Dr. Leftwich has been a great inspiration for a new generation that is trying to promote the perspective of the primacy of politics in development...In personal terms, he was the most important referencce to think about the project for the "post-doc training" that I will make during this and the other year at UC, San Diego... Is a terrible lost..., he was one of the fathers,. maybe the greatest one of the field of "Development Politics".
Dr. Federico Vazquez
Reading Steve Hogg's tribute piece brought back many memories from my brief but indelible time with Adrian. As an undergraduate in York (1997-2000), I was his student on his 'Politics of Development' course where he was also my undergrad thesis supervisor. Even as I have challenged his ideas as an undergraduate, and more recently as a doctoral student, Adrian's legacy has guided my decision to dedicate my life to the study of Politics. I wholeheartedly agree with the four memorable traits of Adrian you listed but there is something you neglected to mention, and that is his courage in life. History will perhaps forever judge him unkindly, but in his moving essay "I Gave the Names" published in Granta in 2002, Adrian imparts one of the most important lessons in life - how to live with your demons and how to reconcile with one's mistakes. The bravery in how he dealt with this dark chapter in his life remains an inspiration to us all. No doubt it continued to be a deep emotional wound for him until his death, and yet how he radiated light and inspired anyone who had the good fortune to cross his path...I am forever indebted to him and hope now to be able to pay back to society, inspired by his example. With great sadness.
Nai Rui Chng
Extremely sad news - Adrian has been a great colleague to me for many years and a major intellectual guide as the champion of serious political economy for over a decade at DFID and since. His combination of great intellect and extreme modesty will be sorely missed.
Max Everest-Phillips - Commonwealth Secretariat
I am so sorry to hear this news. Adrian and I never met but we did have a long conversation via Skype (very early in the morning for me and early evening for him) in which we talked (and talked) about the Pacific, about leadership, about development, about politics and about research. I am confident we could have spent the whole day/night talking and not got bored. I had hoped it would be the first of many such conversations but sadly that was not to be. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.
Tess Newton Cain - Devpacific
Adrian touched so many peoples' lives with his searing intellect and dogged determination to nut things out. There aren't many people who can combine these attributes with a wonderful capacity to laugh out loud, often at his own expense. A truly beautiful and very rare soul. His is a great legacy and one that we all have to cherish. Give him the love of the Davidsons. We have to make sure that we can continue this work.
John Davidson - Minister-Counsellor, AusAID
Adrian was my best and most stimulating teacher at the University of York in the 1970s and over the entire course of my entire university career. He taught the 'Politics of Change' course, which was in many respects ahead of its time in getting across ideas of what lies behind development and successful countries. The course cut across a vast swath of history to deal with the major themes that molded the world as we know it today and what makes for successful and failed states. In many respects the course was well ahead of its time as much of what the DLP deals with today was touched upon in this course. At a time when many in politics departments at universities had become increasingly ideological in their outlook, Adrian was open minded and tolerant. One could feel his enthusiasm for his subject matter and he imparted this to me. I am so sorry that our contact was infrequent after I left York. I had a deep respect for Adrian
It's a big loss for all of us. Adrian and the work of DLP has already had such a positive impact on development thinking and practice. He will have a lasting influence on me & the design and strategy I have been working on for the last year have really been shaped by DLP ideas. And, in person, he was such a generous intellectual.
Sarah Boddington - AusAID
Adrian has been a real personal inspiration to me as well as being someone who has made a major contribution to debates in the development sector more broadly. His scholarship on the politics of development has inspired our thinking and provided us with a rich source of ideas - as evidenced in our latest blog post. We will miss his sharp mind, great sense of humour and intellectual support. Our best wishes go to his family and friends.
Chris Roche - Big Push Forward
I knew Adrian from university and he was also my supervisor for my BA and MA dissertation. I have always been in awe of his great intellect, clarity of thought and understanding, he was always willing to listen to new ideas and encouraged people to develop their own perspectives. He was also a master of communication and had a unique quality to explain the most complex issues in a lucid and logical manner. Personally, I am honoured to have known Adrian and feel proud to have worked with and for him. Ultimately, I feel extremely privileged to have known him as a friend. I will always remember him forever as a hero and inspiration.
Fraser Kennedy - DLP
Adrian has always been such an energetic person, intellectually and physically. My thoughts are with everyone who loves him, in this difficult time. His passions and his light continue to burn brightly. With great sadness, Deborah.
Deborah Brautigam - John Hopkins University
My time working with Adrian and DLP will forever be one of the most intellectually challenging and rewarding opportunities of my life. Since receiving your email, I've been reflecting on all of the things he so generously took the time to teach me, and I consider myself very fortunate to have known him, even if only for a short time. My thoughts and prayers are with Adrian's family and with everybody else mourning his loss.
Nat Burke - World Vision Australia
I drove past the lighthouse near here the other day and thought of him and how much this part of CT pleased him as a youth. We had a gorgeous fiery sunset last night and again I remembered him and wished he could be here to share it. It is terrible news and a great loss to the generational accumulation of wisdom for he has contributed greatly to that and I am sure, had much more to offer.
I am truly saddened and feel such a tremendous loss with Adrian's passing, and have sincere gratitude after reading Steve's tremendous tribute. The Indonesia team of the Asia Foundation only met Adrian a few years back, but the space he created for dialogue and exchange through the DLP have made a tremendous impact on the way we think and act, and it is with sadness and respect that I write up a few of our memories of him. Adrian's infectious energy, his clarity of thought on complex issues, and his passion for 'getting it right' have truly inspired us to do better. After hearing him present at a workshop, I felt a deep sense of resonance, and was so excited that I started planning an ad-hoc 'DLP study' with my colleagues here to test his concepts. Adrian was genuinely interested, and offered encouragement to me and my colleague Erman Rahman via email as we developed the methodology and wrote up our findings. In the years since, Adrian helped us access international forums to discuss our work, and promoted our paper with such vigor that I credit him with it getting a review on the infamous development blog by Duncan Green. To this day, my colleagues and I all continue to put forward what we first learned from Adrian in our exchanges with partners and donors. I even still occasionally refer back to the hand-written notes I scribbled during the very first session where I heard Adrian speak, where he laid out a wealth of academic and applied learning from his lifetime of inquiry. Those notes are full of arrows, exclamation points and 'notes to self' that show how many 'a-ha' moments I had as he presented his wisdom. Like for so many other people he worked with, Adrian's ongoing support meant a tremendous amount to us. Our team is on the front line of managing the politics of development work in Indonesia, but we often lack the time and networks needed to connect with others who are thinking, reflecting and learning about the issues that Adrian and the DLP addressed. When he came through Jakarta, Adrian made time to meet with us, and those discussions led to synergy and new connections. He was wise, humble and genuinely interested in hearing the latest chapter of our 'life in the trenches.' He valued our practical contributions, and helped us make sense of our work in the larger context of academic thinking, to which we may not have otherwise had much access. After hearing the news of Adrian's illness, my colleague Sandra Hamid and I were reminiscing about running into Adrian during that first workshop, after a long day of presentations where he was a key discussant. We collapsed into the hotel bar and ordered a beer. Adrian raced by us in shorts and a tee shirt, off to exercise. He stopped to chat, his trademark smile wide as ever. As he trotted off to work out, we recall looking at each other and saying 'Wow, what an inspiration!' Almost thirty years our senior, Adrian was literally running circles around all of us. It is incredibly difficult to imagine him being anything less than full of life. When I read Steve's tribute, I was humbled to hear that Adrian said that DLP was 'one of the most fascinating experiences of my life.' I can only hope that our team can bring a fraction of Adrian's passion, commitment, charm and enthusiasm to the work we do. To Maddy and Ben, we send our love and heartfelt condolences. I hope that writing up our memories of your father and the difference he made in the world can bring some comfort to you in the days, months and years ahead. That Adrian's legacy will live on is indisputable.
Laurel MacLaren - The Asia Foundation Indonesia
It is with deep sorrow to read this sad news of our professional and passionate political friend and leader. Adrian is not only a leader he is our guide, adviser and mentor and contributed very much in raising my general understanding around 'the centrality and complexity of politics in development, the political dynamics of economic growth, and role of local power and leaderships in legitimate institutional change' as you mentioned. We will all miss him so much and to all of us the only consolation will lies in providing whatever support for his beloved Maddy and Ben, God bless them. Mr. Leftwich passed away and all he did for us and globally will remain for ever. Rest in peace our friend Condolences to his family and to us all
Rogaya Hamza Osman - LEAP Sudan
Adrian was a force of nature; he would breeze in from a long haul flight, chair a conference with eloquance and verve, and then proceed to whip people half his age in the swimming pool afterwards. Adrian thought, wrote and obsessed over the nature of good leadership but he also practiced it. He led by the example of his integrity, kindness and his unswerving belief in the importance of respecting local context rather than prescribing what had worked elsewhere. Sometimes he would sign off from an email by saying 'stay curious.' That was Adrian; leading through his infectious delight in discovery. Who could help but want to follow him down this path? Like so many others, I have come to rely on Adrian's incredible ability to see the important part of an argument, remove the chaff I'd wrapped it in and rearticulate it in a way that made it feel like I was really getting to the heart of the matter - even though I'd failed to see that for myself. If I could do that for my own students I would be thrilled, but if I can do it with the good humour and generosity that Adrian did this for me and for so many others, this will the most fitting tribute I can make to him. I will greatly miss Adrian's enthusiasm, calm and his belief in those around him as I try to live up to what he taught me.
Sarah Phillips - DLP Researcher, The University of Sydney
I am so very grateful to have experienced Adrian's boundless generosity in knowledge and time. I couldn't have asked for a stronger foundation early in my career than the guidance, knowledge and passion for clarity Adrian provided. I will continue to grapple with the ideas Adrian dedicated so much vigour to exploring, developing and communicating, an intellectual challenge that I am privileged to have received. Thank you, Adrian.
Hannah McMahon - AusAID
Adrian Leftwich will be deeply missed. He had a deep interest in all those whom he worked with, and it was not instrumental either, but a genuine care for them as people. I recall the first day we met him, I was with my colleague who at some point called him to check on her son who was ill. Not only did Adrian show a real interest in her son's well being, but proceeded to send her an email the next day, asking about him, not having forgotten his name. It is these little things that show the quality of a human being. Though Adrian had a sharp intellect and a breadth of knowledge and experience that were extremely impressive, he never assumed - or acted - as if he knew it all. He was keen to continuously challenge his own assumptions, probe deeper and in humility persist in the search for truth. No wonder he was able to engage people very diverse in their disciplinary backgrounds, personal professional trajectories and ideological orientations, always winning their admiration and respect.
Mariz Tadros - IDS
This is truly sad news...Adrian recently examined my thesis (January, 2012) and my work has greatly benefited from his insights. I have always been an admirer of Adrian's work and the fact that he came out to examine my thesis despite his illness is a real testament to his character. My condolences to his family. Rest in peace Adrian.
Chipiliro Kalebe-Nyamongo - University of Birmingham
Adrian was an inspiration, a support, a mentor and a great friend to me. He believed passionately in the work that we were doing, and in making a real difference to people's lives, and it was his ability to connect with people that I will remember most. With his deep laugh and his warm smile, he had a profound love of people in general. No matter who you were - how young or old, how senior or junior, through his work and in his day-to-day life, Adrian took the time to listen, to understand and to help the people he met. He always found time for everyone. In the time that I worked with him, he helped me to develop both professionally and personally. He built up my confidence through his confidence in me, and he inspired me to think and look further in everything I do. It will take me a lifetime to digest all of things that I learnt from him, but I feel truly privileged to have known him, and to have had the opportunity to work at his side for the last five and a half years. Adrian, I promise I will do my best to help keep DLP true to your vision, your passion and your integrity.
Heather Lyne de Ver - DLP
It is with great sadness to hear of the passing of Adrian. He was instrumental and encouraging in assisting us - Leadership PNG - get off the ground initially a while back. He has also been very influential in development leadership and had kept the discourse vibrant and up to date. Like a supernova his work and influence on developmental leadership shall radiate in the human celestial sphere over time in years ahead. On behalf of Leadership PNG, our sincere condolences to the DLP team and his family. We pray his legacy shall prevail through you all.
George Bopi - Leadership PNG
I am deeply saddened by the precipitous passing of Adrian, one of the pillars of Development Studies in the UK whose work will continue to inspire many more generations of students studying the politics of development. I considered Adrian a friend and, in recent years, we often compared notes about the difficulty, but the necessity, of transmitting the findings of our research to practitioners. All of us who are trying to understand the world in order to change it will keep Adrian's ideas alive and will find inspiration in his critical approach, his perseverance and his wry sense of humour. I will deeply miss him and I send all my sympathy to those of you who worked with him on a daily basis and to his children whom he loved so dearly.
James Putzel - LSE
Accessing the Big Push website, I read about Adrian's death. I mainly knew him through the DLP and some of his earlier work, and thoroughly appreciated his wit and his drive to communicate and interact. He was generous in sharing ideas on the one occasion that I directly approached him - and will remain inspired by his ideas about leadership, agency and politics. At many an occasion I have shared his stuff with colleagues and friends. I would like to add my deep felt condolences to all those that have been extended already to friends and family.
Jan Vanheukelom - ECDPM
I spent 3 years at York University studying my PhD in Post-war Reconstruction. I was researching the reintegration of former combatants in Rwanda. As part of my first year obligations I had to attend Adrian's classes on 'Foundations of Political Science'; I say had to because for those who had not previously studied politics it was obligatory even though I did not really want to go. I was very glad I did. Adrian was the only lecturer I knew who used examples of football to easily convey more complex political theories. However, what I will always remember about Adrian was the christmas party for staff and PhD students 2.5 months after I started at York. I sat down at my assigned table to find Adrian sitting next to me. I had enjoyed his lectures and thought we may have a little chat, but, given I was well on my way to having a good night, did not expect to get involved in any deep political conversations. Anyway, I knew my stuff so why should I be worried? Well it turned out worried is exactly what I should have been. Adrian seemed to be exceptionally interested in my research topic, and beyond that, what my theoretical framework was, how my methodology would advance my area of study etc etc. The trouble was, I could not fob him off with the argument it was not his area so he would not be interested. He was interested, much to my chagrin at the time. I had to explain exactly what I was doing, why I thought the way I did and how I was going to advance theory and practice. How the hell did I know that? I was half pissed and I didn't really know anyway. The inquisition went on for what seemed like eternity until either Adrian was satisfied with my response or got bored with my stuttering, bumbling answers. In the long run, however, that conversation/education got me focused; I was not going to get caught out like that again. I never did have a dinner like that again with Adrian but I know I have a lot to thank him for. RIP Adrian. Bon Courage.
There were so many things to admire about Adrian, to which many people have already touched on. But the one thing which I truly admired about Adrian was his deep inner trait of a 'fighter'. Behind everything Adrian did was a dogged determination to make something happen, to get results. And not forgetting, that in the midst of all his academic brilliance and influence, was a desire to make the world a better place for the poorest and most disadvantaged people. He never lost sight of what the main game was. I will miss Adrian terribly. He was a true and loyal friend. He was a man of his word and conviction. His fighting spirit will love on in so many ways, through his family and friends, through DLP and, I like to think, in how I live my life. Adrian Leftwich, an eternal fighter with a heart of gold. I'm so glad to have known you.
Joe Hedger - Prime Minister & Cabinet Office, Australia
I've only had the privilege of meeting Adrian Leftwich once, at a conference in Leuven, Belgium, in the summer of 2008. I knew some of his work and that he was considered one of the intellectual heavyweights of Development Studies so I was expecting someone who was busy and aloof. Adrian was none of these things, instead he impressed me with his congeniality, his interest in the work of others and his humour. And while his death is obviously a great loss for the academic world, I think it is his humanity that will be missed even more.
Daniel Lambach - Universitat Duisburg-Essen
I was very privileged to know Adrian during our time on DLP. He was such a hard working person and didn't seem to know how to put the brakes on. He was always going at 200 kms an hour. Even when he was travelling from York to London he would send me an email from the "wobbly train" (as he called it) very concerned whether DLP researchers had received their funding agreement and been paid for their research activities. A very selfless person and always looking after the welfare of others first. It was such a pleasure to work with and learn about DLP from Adrian. Such a inspirational person. Adrian you will be sadly missed. Rest in peace my friend.
Liz Coventry - ex Stantons International
Collectively, we have lost an inspirational colleague and a visionary thinker. On a personal level, I am devastated that Adrian is no longer just an email away to provide sage and generous advice and give me confidence that I'm on the right track. He was an exceptional person, and I shall miss him deeply.
Sue Ingram - ANU
I was deeply saddened to hear about Adrian's passing. Adrian was an inspiring intellect and a wonderful human being -- intellectually sharp, engaging, and so giving and generous. I had the opportunity to work with him on a few different things throughout the years, and he was always so supportive, resourceful, and engaged. .I also know how determined he was to fight this fight. He was a lesson in grace and courage throughout, and there was so much more he still wanted to do. It was a privilege to have known him, and we will all miss him terribly.
Alina Rocha-Menocal - ODI
Shocking news. I was a grad student and lecturer at York 1977-85 and even though I work on the Soviet Union and not development I was truly inspired by Adrian's approach to politics: wide-ranging, critical and never content to stick within disciplinary boundaries. I moved to the US and we stayed in touch sporadically over the years. I called him out of the blue last July, the first contact in a decade, and we picked up exactly where we had left off. He was about to leave for Fiji the next day but still he spent half an hour explaining his work for the DLP. I passed on some of his latest writing to my own students. I remember his wit ("Dress British, think Yiddish.") I will miss him.
I was shocked and very saddened by the terrible news of Dr Leftwich's passing. I spent around five years learning political science under Dr Leftwich's supervision in York between 2005 and 2009. It was the most rewarding and happiest time in my life as a student. After I graduated, Dr Leftwich did not stopped his support for me. He always encouraged me and sent numerous reference letters for me whenever I requested his help, even when he was diagnosed with cancer last year. Dr Leftwich was the most responsible, patient, and wise teacher I have ever met. I am truely grateful for his teaching and what he did to improve my life. It is perfectly legitimate to view him as the modern Confucius in Britain, and I will always remember him as my best mentor.
Kuang-Hao (Patrick) Hou - National Quemoy University, Taiwan
Adrian held a very unique place in my heart in that he was my Godfather, an honour that many hold lightly if they remember their position at all (my other god parents very much included in this). But Adrian was very different in this regard, something which will not surprise many of you I'm sure. And whilst not concentrating so much on the 'God' part of the bargin, he was ever present in my life in some way shape or form and completely excelled any expectation of the 'father' role that he undertook. I have one very strong memory of Adrian from when I was maybe about 6 or 7 years old which perfectly encapsulates how wonderful a man he was - I couldn't sleep one night for whatever reason, and my mum had either run out of ideas or I had taken her to the end of her tether (conveniently cannot remember which) when she suggested I give Adrian a call. So I phoned him up out of the blue one evening and he dropped whatever he was doing to give me and my problem his undivided attention. Not only did he listen and completely understand my situation, but he then provided the wisdom that not only worked wonders, but that every 7 year old boy wants to hear: have a hot chocolate. It was his way to make you feel like you and your problem, story, experience, or whatever, was the most important thing happening in that moment, and his ability to listen and tell you exactly what it was that you needed to hear. His generosity knew no bounds and I always knew I could talk to him about anything. His interest in me and my life was so unfalteringly genuine that I was often surprised by it (you'd have thought that I would have learnt after 26 years of it!). Adrian, my life is innumerably richer for having had you play such a key part in it: you will be sorely missed.
I am the last PhD student that Adrian supervised before he went on retirement. I count myself very lucky to have had this special man in my life. Adrian was the one who made it possible for me to get a scholarship to study under his supervision. His love and concern for me was so great that many of my colleagues wished to have him as their supervisor. In January 2012 my phd scholarship ended and I started contemplating going back home (to Ghana) to finish the study there. Adrian did something unbelievable. Adrian took over the role of the scholarship Secretariat and every month he will put money into my bank account! I felt so uncomfortable because I did not know how I was going to repay him. 'How can I repay you Adrian?', I asked him. To my great surprise he told me this, "Daniel, repay it by showing the same love, kindness and generosity to your students". When I ponder over what Adrian did it is clear that Adrian wanted to spread an everlasting message that could transform the world into a better place for the poor. Of course he was the Co-Director of the Institute for Pro-Poor Growth (IPPG). To him, poverty in the world could be reduced, if not eliminated, if all educated people understood his conception of love and kindness. It is a conception that Jesus Christ preached and acted in the Bible. "Adrian, it's a deal!", I told him. Two days ago I told my students about this wonderful eternal deal that Adrian reached with me. I had to tell them because I was struggling to hold back my tears after I read the email informing me that he had passed away. The lecture room became silent for some time. I could feel that Adrian's extraordinary act of love and kindness spoke loudly in the hearts and minds of my students. After the lectures some of the students wanted to see more of his photo. I am sure that Adrian is achieving his goal through the special deal that he reached with me. My spirit will be present at his funeral. God bless his soul till we meet again!
My heartfelt condolences to Adrian's children, colleagues, and the many people whose lives his work influenced. My interaction with Adrian was brief, but it left a huge impact. Reading the tributes on this page, this experience seems typical. I replaced Adrian as Lecturer in the Politics of Development at the University of York in 2006-07, as he was on secondment to DFID. Despite a busy parenting, research and work schedule, Adrian made it a point to reach out. We discussed the courses I had been asked to teach, and he willingly shared his vast repertoire of films on development. I had open access to his lecture notes and slides, and the exhaustive reading lists on a range of topics that he had, clearly, prepared painstakingly over many years. I still use those resources and value them deeply. Adrian's writing has been on every single reading list I have prepared since 2006. I have said this often over the past few years, and more so since hearing of Adrian's passing: I am so very proud that my first job in academia was associated with Adrian Leftwich. Thank you Adrian, for everything.
Nikita Sud - University of Oxford
Thank you Adrian, For all the inspiration, encouragement and warmth that you have spread so generously to the people around you. I have only met you a couple of times in person but consider you as one of my most important mentors. I only emailed with you over a period of a few months, but felt a remarkable connection and friendship. I feel incredibly privileged to know you. Be well, wherever you are now.
Dieter Zinnbauer - Transparency International, Germany
It was with true sadness that I learned of Adrian's illness and death. Adrian began working with Transparency International through the DLP a few years ago, and he was inspiring as both a very bright mind and a truly engaged person. He was enthusiastic about the work we were doing and planning, rigorous in his pursuit of practical research, and kind to a T, always adding a lot of personal warmth to our interaction. I hope his spirit lives on in all our work and send my deepest condolences to his family.
Robin Hodess - Transparency International
I have worked with Adrian over the last three years on one of the DLP's research projects. Working with Adrian was a true joy - he never ceased being curious to understand 'how things really work' at the local level in China and he kept pushing for making academic research as policy relevant as possible. In addition to being a true mentor and role model for me in academia, Adrian was simply such a wonderful, charming, and humorous man. One of my favourite moments with Adrian was going to the swimming pool in Sydney after a long workshop day and oh boy did he out-swim us all! Adrian also talked always so fondly about his two children, who meant so much to him. My deep condolences to both of them. I am very proud to have known Adrian and will miss him but his ideas and mission will continue in our work.
Genia Kostka - DLP Researcher, Frankfurt
I will always be grateful for the opportunity I had to work as a researcher with Adrian Leftwich on the DLP. The time that I was privileged to have spent in his intellectual orbit was without doubt the most stimulating and rewarding academic and professional experience I could ever have wished for. Adrian's ability to motivate, stimulate and engage people about pressing political problems was second to none. In addition to his profound talent for analysis, he was a kind, loyal, compassionate and encouraging colleague. He was generous with his time, curious about the world, and passionately committed to bringing about positive change in the lives of those around him. The impact he made on my own personal development is impossible to measure. It was an absolute honour to have known him and to have worked with him, and I will miss him deeply.
Ed Laws - DLP Researcher
We join in being very saddened by Adrian's death. He inspired us and we liked him, a lot. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to all his close friends and family.
Caroline Hughes, Jane Hutchison and Ian Wilson - Murdoch University
Adrian had the rare combination of a passion for getting to the heart of ideas and a deep commitment to making research relevant to the world. I won't forget his constant reminders during conferences to make sure we were addressing the practical issues which would come up at work on Monday or his detailed and thoughtful explanations of what taking politics seriously really requires. I've drawn heavily on his writings and his personal advice in my work and his example will continue to push me to try to do the kind of engaged and critical research he would approve of. But above all Adrian was incredibly kind and generous, never too busy to share his considerable experience, wisdom, and humor. He took me seriously as a young researcher and had a gift for making everyone feel that their thoughts were not only worthwhile but also exciting. I know his work and ideas will live on in the many researchers and development practitioners he has touched and inspired.
Diane de Gramont - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
As well as being one of the world's leading thinkers in the political economy of development, Adrian was an extremely nice guy. Clear-headed, infectiously enthusiastic, and very generous with his time - he will be sorely missed.
I look forward to a day when I can leave a mental snapshot as a medium to express my thoughts on certain occasions rather than grasp for the right words and still find them wanting. A paragraph of remembrance and tribute for an individual such as Adrian Leftwich certainly is one such occasion. While, like many, my 'in person' meetings with Adrian were limited and my 'day to day' engagement - firstly as support to Liz and then as her pale imitation - was on the less than exciting administration and fund management side, all the words such as 'inspiring', 'helpful', 'caring', 'enthusiastic' and 'intellect' are so understandably, quintessentially, 'Adrian'. For that to be understandable via email, telephone and Skype is one thing, to experience it in person quite another. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to sit through the DLP Coalitions Workshop in Sydney, as the humble per diems courier; for having seen Adrian 'in the chair' and engaging with the participants was to see thought in action and to physically understand why the work of the DLP is so important. It is perhaps a measure of a man that in spite of such a fleeting passage through another's life such a sense of loss is created as well as a sense of privilege for having had even that fleeting moment. My condolences to Adrian's children, colleagues and friends.
Ben Stephens - ex Stantons International
Adrian was a gentleman and a great thinker. We worked together in a project on Institutions and Pro-Poor Growth. He taught me, and many others who were new to that subject, how to blend political economy analyses with some core issues of development economics. He has made a significant contribution to the subject of development studies. We will miss you, Adrian - your enthusiasm to work with people from diverse background, your ability to explain complex issues in simple language and, most importantly, your respect to diverse views and capacity to listen to others.
Bipul Chatterjee - CUTS International
I still remember that pleasant afternoon in May, 2007 when I was taking a leisurely stroll along a Manchester sidewalk. All of a sudden, something whizzed past me, giving me something of a startle. Pointing towards the disappearing vision of a sprinter in black tracks, a fellow participant at the IPPG programme which I had come to attend, clarified, 'That is Adrian Leftwich.' In the subsequent meetings and interactions that I was blessed to have with him in the months and years that followed, Adrian touched me in the most warm and intense way. Such a wonderful teacher, a patient listener, an eager learner, a sincere humanist, an untiring academician, a witty companion, a friend and a philosopher- all rolled into one endearing embodiment : ADRIAN. Whenever I think of him I cannot help reading Paulo Coelho's analogy between a wooden pencil and a beautiful soul into his life. He had the capacity to write, but allowed a 'Hand' to guide him; he had his share of injuries and the shavings must have caused pain and suffering, but in the end, like a pencil, he emerged more sharp and focused; again, as with a pencil, what mattered was the lead inside, not the exterior; like a pencil he was unafraid of making mistakes, he could erase them and write on; and, in the end, like a pencil, he left behind an impression. Sir, much like that Manchester afternoon, you have once again whizzed past all of us; but you have for sure created waves and ripples all around, and they will touch us and inspire us to run along the track you have left behind.
The way I remember Adrian: I first met Adrian Leftwich in 2008 in a workshop organised by the IPPG in Nairobi. This was one of the early workshops organized by the IPPG for the project on state-business relations in Africa and in India. Adrian was more directly involved with the African part given his long interest in that part of the developing world. The Indian research, with which I was associated, was headed by the other joint director of IPPG Kunal Sen. An economist by training I naturally knew about Kunal's work quite well. But frankly speaking I did not have much idea about the academic stature Adrian had at that point. The workshop started with an address by Adrian on the possible interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks could be adopted to analyse the questions of growth surge and state business relations. I was highly influenced by that lecture and started thinking how to relate my understanding of economic theories of institutions with what Adrian was putting forward. The second and the last time when I met Adrian during the Jaipur workshop to discuss the final reports/papers on India I had already read quite a bit of Adrian's work and we had used it in our paper. Adrian took a very keen interest in our work on West Bengal. But I think that's the way he was: an extremely unassuming academician taking a lot of interest in other people's work. I remember during those extremely busy days in Jaipur he managed to sit with both Indranil and me to discuss what he felt about our work and how it could be made better to be published in a good journal. I will close this tribute to Adrian by telling you a small story. After one of our presentations during the Jaipur workshop we all were very excited and discussing with Kunal not leaving him to go and take his lunch. Adrian noticed this; came near us and gently said: 'I think you should let the man eat something, he has been working day and night'. That was Adrian, not only a true academician with patience towards all disciplines of social sciences but also a very humane personality.
Deepita Chakravarty - IPPG
It was a real honour to have worked closely with Adrian over the past two years. Such an incredible mind, and such incredible energy and commitment! I admire him greatly. Adrian insisted on continuing to provide inputs into AusAID's approach to political (economy) analysis throughout his illness, including detailed written comments and long discussions over the phone (6am his time!). He would be pleased to know that his work is certainly influencing donor approaches to governance and the political dimensions of development, slowly but surely. All the very best wishes to his family.
Ulla Keech-Marx - AusAID
It is with great sadness that I learned of Professor Adrian Leftwich's death today. I studied with a cohort of students and learnt about PolEcon Analyses and really benefitted from his guidance as an undergraduate at York in the mid 1990s. I thought he was brave and inspirational, and I respected the decisions that he made. May he rest in peace.
Clare Waddington - former student
I write this as just one of thousands of students Adrian inspired and I cannot claim to have known him well. Perhaps it is appropriate that at least one tribute comes from someone like me to represent so many in my position. I was a student at York from 1977-80 and met Adrian twice on trips back to campus in the 90's. It was telling that he recognised me, remembered key things about me and was instantly curious and empathetic. He was an inspirational teacher, thoughtful, reflective and instinctively caring. In 1977 I was an immature working class boy uncomfortable with many aspects of university and especially with the more theoretical elements of study. Adrian helped me find my way without ever seeming to lead. A gentle, fascinating, reflective and wise man. I would like to mention his early experiences in South Africa. These are part of Adrian's life and they are issues that he discussed with me briefly and very privately after I had raised in a different context my father's experiences as a prisoner of war. Everything that I know about that period means that he has grown in my estimation. For most people reading this who knew Adrian far better than me I am sure their memories are deeper than those that celebrate his intellect and teaching and therefore focus on him as a man. For me too that is what I wish to think of to cheer me up after the sadness. My memory now is of Adrian smiling broadly and walking out of Derwent to play squash, ducks in the background and leaves on the lawns. That sums up my love of York, those days and Adrian's place in my memories.
David Thorne - former student
At ODI and around the world, a huge number of people share DLP's sense of loss at Adrian's death, as well as great admiration for the way he faced his final challenge. Some of us received the bad news at a conference in Accra on the political economy of inclusive development, where we debated quite a few of the issues about which Adrian was most passionate. Many there who did not know him personally told me of the great respect they have for his work and for the very distinct contribution he made to the field of the politics of development. Those who knew him better feel more than a little anger at the unfairness of it all - so many things still to be done, so many debates still to be had!
David Booth - ODI