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Centre of African Studies: News


Dr John McCracken has passed away

We are very sad to report that John McCracken passed away on 23 October 2017.

 He will be sorely missed by the community of Africanist scholars. John was an exceptional scholar who contributed immensely to the historiography of Malawi and Central-Eastern Africa with his lucid and rigorous work. Among his many outstanding contributions to the field are his path-breaking study Politics and Christianity in Malawi, 1875-1940 about the impact of the Livingstonia mission in the Northern Province published by Cambridge University Press in 1977, which was based on his PhD thesis presented at the University of Cambridge. John had a long and productive career that took him from Cambridge to Africa and finally Scotland. He taught at the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the University College of Dar Es Salaam (1965 to 1969) and was Professor and Head of the Department of History at Chancellor College, University of Malawi from 1980-83 and returned as Visiting Professor in 2009. Between 1990 and 1992 he served as president of the African Studies Association UK.  John was awarded ASAUK's Distinguished Africanist Award in 2008. After working in Africa for many years John moved to the UK where he accepted a post as lecturer at the Department of History at the University of Stirling.

After retiring from the University of Stirling he continued to serve as Honorary Senior Research Fellow there. After his retirement, he even increased his output and among his recent publications A History of Malawi, 1859-1966 (James Currey 2012), his magnus opus and the first comprehensive account of Malawi’s colonial history, set a new standard for the historiography of Malawi. In 2015, he published the edited collection Voices from the Chilembwe Rising (Oxford University Press and British Academy) of witness testimony made to the Nyasaland Rising Commission of Inquiry in 1915 presenting rare, verbatim testimonies of contemporary African witnesses.

John was a close friend of CAS over very many years. He developed a close relationship with Sam Shepperson who was instrumental in setting up CAS in 1962, and when he took up a Lectureship at the University of Stirling it was perhaps inevitable that the bond would remain a close one despite the travelling distance. In a formal role, John served as an external examiner for the MSc in African Studies and for many doctoral theses. He was a regular participant in the annual CAS conferences where his gracious contributions were always well-received, especially by junior researchers who were new to the academic game. John also attended many of the regular run of weekly seminars, where he also presented his own research. John also came along to CAS fundraising events to raise money for African scholarships and was a great supporter of the renaissance of the Centre over the past decade.