Feminist Philosophers

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Obituary: Sue Campbell February 16, 2011

Filed under: women in philosophy — Jender @ 8:43 pm

Alexis Shotwell has sent us this obituary:

Dr. Susan Leslie (Sue) Campbell (54) passed away on Saturday, February 12 2011 at the Victoria General Hospital, Halifax, Canada, surrounded by her loving family. Sue was a teacher, a philosopher, and a genuinely kind person. As a philosopher and teacher, her generosity and great courage illuminated the world for so many; as a loved one and friend, she showed us all grace through the trying times and humility through the good. Her sense of humour—sometimes dark, sometimes gentle—could always be counted on to make the emotion of self-pity impossible. Sue was a member of the Philosophy Department and Gender and Women’s Studies program at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Canada) since 1992. She truly enjoyed students and was moved by their efforts to become thoughtful adults. Sue was a valued colleague and devoted mentor in both Philosophy and the Gender and Women’s Studies Program. She was a passionate gardener, a lover of bad movies, coffee shops and beer, a rescuer of
wild flowers, a poet, and a proud cabin owner.

Sue was an internationally recognized scholar with expertise in philosophy of memory, psychology, and feminism. Her work is broad in its scope and influence and deep in its analysis and implications. Her leadership in philosophical perspectives on these subjects is felt in many areas of scholarship and practice, including philosophy, women’s and gender studies, public policy, psychology, and law. She was an exceptionally gifted and committed teacher who has inspired and mentored a great many undergraduate and graduate students.

Her research encompassed many areas in philosophy, including embodiment, memory and “false memories,” race and racism, feelings, emotions, health, sexuality, relational self-construction, conceptions of authenticity, reparations, experience, and agency. Much of her work helps to make clear the significant interconnections among these apparently diverse areas of scholarship. Among the many significant scholarly contributions she has made, Campbell’s work on memory is especially notable. Her book Relational Remembering: Rethinking the Memory Wars was awarded the North American Society for Social Philosophy Book Prize in 2003, and was named a Choice Notable Academic Title. This book made major interventions on many important aspects of thinking about the place of memory in personal and legal testimony and is regarded as necessary reading for anyone theorizing memory and its reliability

In recognition of the import of her work on relationality, responsibility, and memory, Campbell was commissioned to prepare two discussion papers for the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada Truth and Reconciliation Commission: “Challenges to Memory in Political Contexts: Recognizing Disrespectful Challenge” and “Remembering for the Future: Memory as a Lens on the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” These papers helped to set the foundation for the work of the Commission, providing a vivid demonstration of the relevance of Campbell’s work on memory to some of the most important issues facing Canada now.

Campbell’s work on memory is rooted in her important and original work on relationality (i.e., the importance of attending to the role of social and political relations in shaping personal experiences) and in her analyses of the collective expressive resources people need in their most intimate and personal experiences of feeling. An early article set the stage for what has become a flourishing network of thinking in these areas: “Being Dismissed: The Politics of Emotional Expression,” published in the foremost international journal for feminist philosophy (Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, Vol.9, No.3 (1994)). In 2010, as part of its celebration of 25 years of publication, this journal asked its readers to nominate the three articles published to date that were especially generative for their own work and formative for feminist philosophy. The articles selected “capture especially well the thinking on pivotal issues, at key junctures, in the development of feminist
philosophy as a field.” This article (“Being Dismissed”) appeared on the final list of the 16 most influential and significant articles to be published in the history of the journal.

In the same area of thinking, Campbell’s first book, Interpreting the Personal: Expression and the Formation of Feelings, has won widespread recognition as a truly original and significant text in the philosophy of psychology, and more specifically, philosophy of the emotions. Interpreting the Personal was shortlisted for the Canadian Philosophical Association Book Prize, a notably competitive award. It won scholarly recognition in the form of positive reviews in top academic journals. Like Campbell’s texts on memory, this book has traveled beyond the bounds of the discipline of philosophy. It is widely cited and relied upon in gender and women’s studies, in clinical work in psychology, and in cultural studies.

Campbell also co-edited two collections of original essays on ground-breaking topics. Racism and Philosophy is one of the first philosophy books to address this difficult subject. Embodiment and Agency is the first collection of essays to bring into focus connections between two important topics that are primarily explored separately in philosophy circles (embodiment and agency). Both are notable not only for the excellence of the collections, but also for their inclusion of work by junior scholars alongside essays by already-eminent scholars. In such ways, Dr. Campbell consistently helped to mentor and promote the careers of beginning scholars who gain valuable recognition through their proximity to well known experts.

While the effects of innovative pedagogy and ongoing mentorship of students and junior colleagues is harder to map than the data available through publications and conference presentations, this is indubitably a significant area of Campbell’s achievements. Her quality as a teacher, mentor, and supervisor is unparalleled. Many of the graduate and undergraduate students she inspired have gone on to their own professional careers where they are building on some of Campbell’s ideas in innovative ways.

Sue Campbell was extraordinary in her commitment to interdisciplinary, collaborative research. Her record of leadership and collegiality in collaborative inquiry is remarkable and the results of her collaborations are impressive. She has pursued a stellar career path while facilitating the research of numerous collaborators at all levels of academic achievement.

Sue was born in Edmonton and completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees in philosophy at the University of Alberta. She received her doctorate from the University of Toronto. Sue is predeceased by her parents Pat and Bill Campbell, both of Edmonton. She is survived by her loving partner, Jan Sutherland, and her beloved sisters Katy Campbell (Rick Roder) and Lori Campbell (Barry Snell), by her precious nieces Jesse Campbell and Courtney Wells (Parker), and great-nephew Xander. Having come from a sociable family, Sue’s friendships meant a great deal to her and, in particular, Rocky Jacobsen, David Checkland, Susan Sherwin, Shirley Tillotson, Duncan MacIntosh and Ami Harbin were stalwart to the end. Mention must also be made of Stanley and Sugar, the pets who brought Sue much comfort and joy over the years.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Sue Campbell Scholarship Fund c/o Ben McIsaac, Development Office, Dalhousie University, MacDonald Building, 6300 Coburg Rd, Halifax, NS B3H 3J5. Online condolences may be made here.

 

7 Responses to “Obituary: Sue Campbell”

  1. jj Says:

    I just discovered her work about two years ago. Her work stresses the social aspects of embodied cognition more than any other recent author I can think of. What a loss of a fine and original mind!

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tiffany Chen, FeministPhilosophers. FeministPhilosophers said: Obituary: Sue Campbell: Alexis Shotwell has sent us this obituary: Dr. Susan Leslie (Sue) Campbell (54) passed a… http://bit.ly/hfWoSY [...]

  3. AR Says:

    I had Sue as a professor during my MA. A kinder, gentler person, genuinely caring about others around her, could not be found. She will certainly be missed by those who have known her, and her loss is one both personal and to the field.

  4. [...] Obituary: Sue Campbell (feministphilosophers.wordpress.com) [...]

  5. For my reflections on Sue, whom I have known almost 20 years, see my What Sorts post after her death:

    http://whatsortsofpeople.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/sue-campbell-1956-2011/

    Michael Hymers obituary, posted around the same time on the philos listserv, and linked to in Moyra Lang’s comment on my post, is also worth reading, both for those who know Sue’s work well, and those who perhaps might, some day.

    rob wilson–

  6. [...] as a person and professional.  I think every social worker would benefit from being introduced to Sue Campbell’s philosophy.  She stressed the importance of attending to the role of our social and political [...]


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