At 80, Somjee writes 11th book

November 17, 2005, vol. 34, no. 6
By Howard Fluxgold

Document Tools

Print This Article

E-mail This Page

Font Size
S      M      L      XL

Related Stories

A. H. Somjee, professor emeritus of political science and charter faculty member, retired from SFU 15 years ago but he never really stopped working.

As Somjee turns 80 he, along with his wife Geeta, an adjunct professor of political science at SFU, has just published his eleventh book titled Poverty, Gender and Human Development: Context-Effective Cooperative Approaches.

Somjee finds nothing unusual about his productivity as a retiree, taking his lead from his teachers at London School of Economics (LSE) where he earned his doctorate. “My PhD supervisor at the LSE, Michael Oakeshott, produced his best work in his 80s, and my teacher there, Karl Popper, produced his final work at the age of 92.”

Somjee came to SFU's then-department of political science, sociology and anthropolgy in 1965, a department that became known as one of the most radical in Canada.

“The reputation of department head Tom Bottomore as a great Marxist scholar attracted left-wing academics from all over the world,” recalls Somjee. “Those academics, and in particular those from the U.S., were not very happy with the Vietnam War and the policies of President Nixon. They were a mixed group, and our weekly seminars quickly degenerated into ideological discourses bordering on snide remarks.” Eventually, the department was split.

Somjee, however, continued teaching in the political science department, researching and writing books about his findings. He explains, “My interest has been in grassroots communities of rural India, and for the last 10 years, in the original ASEAN countries. The focus of my research was on the complexities of development dynamics of the slow moving economy of India and the rapidly moving economies of South East Asia.”

His most recent book looks at the many-sided impact of the milk cooperative movement in India. In a span of nearly 50 years, the movement has made India the largest milk producing country in the world.

Despite his age, Somjee is still not ready to retire. With the new book fresh off the press, he is planning a follow-up on comparative development theory.

“I still have a few more years of work before I sleep,” he laughs.

Search SFU News Online