Remembering Professor Anthony Hall (1947 – 2019)
It was with great sadness that I received the news of Tony passing on Monday, 20th May 2019.
Tony was my PhD co-supervisor, along with Dr Jeff Garmany (KCL), and was also going to mentor me for a post-doctoral project. Unfortunately, in late September 2017, SVD officially took him away from our joint research in the Amazon, away from his desire to continue working after retiring, and in several ways, it rapidly took him away from his own self and, consequently, all his beloved ones. There was so much I still wanted to learn from Tony…
Despite conducting work in Brazil for 40 years, working with Brazilians and having his own Brazilian family, Tony still managed to keep himself very British. He was discreet about everything. Humble about his impressive contribution to social policy, environment and development scholarship, particularly concerning the Brazil North-East and Amazonia, he never seemed to notice how much his work has been touching so many people. Tony’s research, accurate accounts and relevant inputs have had an impact beyond academia, as he acted as OXFAM’s country representative and as a consultant for the World Bank.
I remember attending an event about Undergraduate Socioabilities, at the LSE in 2012, which Tony was supposed to be the chair, but he missed it because of the birth of his grandchild Yishai. A couple of years later, when he officially became my PhD supervisor, I would use this as my entrée for informal chats. Tony would proudly talk about his grandchild and occasionally make some enthusiastic comment about his forthcoming trips to see his daughter Julie or son Joseph, particularly over holidays. Our most common small talk would be on any scandalous Brazilian political affairs, and that, unfortunately, we had a lot to talk about. Tony used to do fantastic impressions of the former president Lula da Silva.
In addition to his busy schedule at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where he has been working since 1983, Tony also found the time to be an external examiner for the King’s Brazil Institute’s Masters programme and we would often see him there either as a guest speaker or attending events concerning Brazil.
I became familiar with Tony’s work while writing my masters dissertation on the ‘glocalisation’ of the Brazilian Amazon in the Department of Geography, at King’s. I decided to stay at King’s after my Masters, and we invited him to be the 3rd reader for my PhD. I continued to follow his work, which showed his passion for the region, by attending his talks and discussing with him my research in the Amazon. He introduced me to Thais Tartalha, a visiting doctoral candidate, for which I am extremely grateful. Thais and I became friends straightaway and have been collaborating and sharing this passion for the Amazon ever since.
For very long, Tony has been one of the very few scholars specialised in Amazonian socio-environmental politics in the United Kingdom. He was an inspiration to many PhD researchers working on environmental policies. My friends from CLOSER, a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research group focusing on Brazilian environmental politics, were no different. Tony has been a source of inspiration for every member of our research group. We were seven young PhD students with various research backgrounds, from different London universities who had some things in common: an interest in Brazil from a social and environmental perspective and a willingness to improve and share our knowledge. Tony was a doctoral thesis examiner to some, advisor to others, and research godfather to all of us. We tried to learn from him at every opportunity, inviting him to comment on our paper presentations and give talks during our gatherings. Often, these events would finish with dinner or extend to a potential roda de choro with feijoada.
As a natural admirer of Tony’s work, his feedback on my research was invaluable. When Alvaro Comin, my then former co-supervisor, mentioned he was returning to São Paulo, he suggested that we invited Tony to take over. I was thrilled that Tony accepted this time. As a co-supervisor, Tony gave me space to find my own way without ever losing sight of my development and always supporting my academic endeavours. I was always grateful for his guidance. He knew so much and had decades of experience as an academic. Tony’s preference was for giving very attentive and kind feedback to my written work. I had hopes that he would continue doing that for a few years after my PhD and that I would have the honour of writing with him one day! I was thrilled when I heard he had included me on a research proposal on participatory approaches to natural resource conservation in the region of Amazonas, where I’ve been working for a number of years. It was an exciting project.
Most recently, I learned from Tony that I shouldn’t take life for granted, and to care for and show my love to those that are dearest to me. It was really sad seeing him noticing he wasn’t the same and we have been missing and celebrating him during the course of the project he started and I continued with Charlie Palmer (LSE), Edilza Laray (State University of Amazonas –UEA) and her students. Tony was a very generous, humble person, who had a brilliant mind and still a lot to contribute to Brazilian socio-environmental politics. His legacy shall endure in every former PhD student and the many peers whose work has crossed paths with him.
A special hug and our deepest condolences to Tony’s children, Joseph Hall & Julie Chajes, grandson Yishai, and his sister Sue Hall.
A tribute and donation page can be found at Dementia UK.