Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Mourning Neil Englehart

From his obituary, Eagle News
Yesterday, I was surprised to learn that Neil Englehart had died weeks earlier.  Neil and I were in the same cohort at UCSD although I might have bumped into him at Oberlin--my memory is bad.  What I do remember is that he was not only brilliant but kind.  He was quieter than most of us, but when he had something to say, it was either insightful or funny or both.

It was utterly perfect that Neil, who was so humane, spent his career studying human rights.  I love the title to his most recent book: Sovereignty, State Failure and Human Rights: Petty Despots and Exemplary Villains.  I didn't read enough of his work, an error that I will spend part of this summer correcting.

Of those of my cohort who remained in the profession, I saw him perhaps the least.  And that was my loss, as I always enjoyed my time with him.  I met his wife and family at the International Studies Association meeting in Hawaii 15 years ago, and he was so happy.  His obituary does a very good job of reflecting the guy I knew way back when and who I would see from time to time at various conferences over the years.  He clearly lived life well, but it was too damned short. 

Of course, I regret not seeking Neil out more often, and I regret not telling him what a difference he made when I was starting out. Whether he ever realized it or not, Neil played a crucial role in my graduate career.  He helped me navigate the political theory class that had little to do with politics and the comparative politics class that boggled my mind every week.

In this time where death is all around us, Neil's life and his focus on humanity reminds us of the important stuff that we ought not take for granted.

My condolences to his family, to his students and colleagues at Bowling Green State, and to all of the people he touched.

No comments: