Search site



Obituary: Carolyn Baylies

It is very sad to have to report the death, on 1 November, of Dr Carolyn Baylies, Reader in the School of Sociology and Social Policy.

Born in Texas, Carolyn Baylies graduated in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1969. Her graduate studies, specialising in the sociology of development, were undertaken at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Awarded an MS degree in 1971, Carolyn went to Zambia in 1973 to carry out research for her doctorate and joined the staff of the University of Zambia in the following year. The major focus of her research for her PhD (awarded in 1978) was the formation of an indigenous capitalist class in Zambia, the role of the state in development and the interrelations of class and state. This work led to a number of publications, including The Dynamics of the One-Party State in Zambia (1984), produced jointly with her husband, Dr Morris Szeftel, which were acclaimed as detailed, sophisticated and penetrating contributions to scholarship on Zambia. These were the early fruits of what was to be a long and distinguished record of original research in the sociology of developing countries. During her time in Zambia, Carolyn also carried out a number of other projects, including research on the trade union movement and labour policies.

Following a year spent as Visiting Assistant Professor at the California State University, Carolyn came to Leeds in 1980, to take up a post as Research Fellow in the School of Economic Studies where she worked on the history of the Yorkshire miners in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This was published in 1993 as the highly regarded History of the Yorkshire Miners, 1881-1918. Carolyn was appointed to a Lectureship in the Department of Sociology in 1983 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1992; she also served two terms (1990-93 and 1997-99) as Director of the Centre for Development Studies, in the establishment and considerable success of which she was a key figure. In the late 1980s, she resumed her research on the political economy of Zambia, with publications on political conditionality and democratisation in that country. At the same time, her interests in gender, health and illness - and her great humanitarian concern for the poor - also came together in her extremely influential research on the social impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Publications such as AIDS, Sexuality and Gender in Africa: collective strategies and struggles (2000), produced jointly with her long-standing collaborator, Dr Janet Bujra, and the Gender and AIDS group, brought her international renown. Carolyn was one of the first scholars to analyse the ways in which the epidemic threatened existing social structures and food security. The widespread recognition of the outstanding quality and importance of her research was evident in the invitations she received to take part in international conferences dealing with issues relating to AIDS, the citation of her work in key publications and the reprinting of a number of her articles. In August 2003, the title and status of Reader in the Sociology of Developing Countries was conferred upon Carolyn by the University.

Carolyn was for more than twenty years an extremely hard-working and hugely effective member of the editorial working group of the Review of African Political Economy, during which time it achieved its present stature as the leading journal on social and political issues in Africa. Her unstinting generosity in supporting and encouraging aspirant authors was legendary. That same quality was equally manifest in her supervision of research students within the University, the time and commitment she devoted to this area being a significant factor in the expansion of postgraduate research in development studies.

Generosity towards others, students and colleagues alike, permeated all of Carolyns activities within the University. She was a highly dedicated, enthusiastic and popular teacher across a wide range of topics. Any responsibility she assumed within or outside the Department was fulfilled with scrupulous fairness, meticulous attention to detail and a deeply rooted concern for the individual. Carolyn rapidly established herself as a well-known, greatly respected and influential member of the University community as a whole, not least through her long-standing and extensive participation in AUT activities. Committed to the concept of collegiality and to the interests and welfare of her colleagues, Carolyn was deeply involved in numerous facets of AUT work, including serving for many years on the JCUA and providing countless hours of support and advice to individual members; she took a particular interest in securing improvements in the areas of equal opportunities and conditions of service for staff on fixed-term and hourly-paid contracts. She had been the President of the Leeds AUT since 2002. At varying times, Carolyn also served on a wide range of committees and other bodies, including the Court, Faculty Boards, the Staff, Senior Lectureships and Equal Opportunities Committees, and the Academic Development Committee. The number of votes Carolyn polled in being elected (and re-elected) to the Senate (of which she had been a member since 1999) and the Council (on which she had served continuously since 1997) constituted just one measure of the enormously high esteem in which she was held throughout the University.

Carolyn is survived by her husband, Dr Morris Szeftel, and a son, Andrew, and a daughter, Hannah.

The funeral service will be held at Rawdon Crematorium, Leeds Road, Rawdon at 12.20pm on Monday 10 November 2003.

Morris has suggested that instead of flowers for Carolyn's funeral, a contribution to one of her favourite charities may be appropriate. Donations can be made to Water Aid - 'a charity to help people escape the stranglehold of poverty and disease caused by living without safe water and sanitation'.

Water Aid is at

Water Aid Prince Consort House 27-29 Albert Embankment London SE1 7UB (44) (0)207 793 4526

The flag on the Parkinson Building will be flown at half-mast on 10 November in Carolyn's memory.

Published: 5 November 2003