A personal web-site like this is inevitably narcissistic, but I hope it has a wider social purpose of making my writing and photography more easily available to anyone who has a serious interest in sociology, politics and culture. I hope it is specially useful those who are thinking about and developing practice that will support radical social change.
I was born in 1949 in Northallerton, Yorkshire, UK. I’ve lived in Leeds, UK, since 1968. I formed myself in the varied mileux of loving friends and family, Royal Air Force camps, private and state schools, the University of Leeds’ Sociology Department, and the libertarian revolutionary movements of the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s. (I was in Big Flame from 1975 to about 1984.) I have worked in factories (briefly), as an unqualified social worker (even more briefly), in adult and community education, for the Runnymede Trust, for the Harehills and Chapeltown Law Centre (in Leeds), as a freelance journalist and photographer.
My utopian longing continued to guide my work when I became a cultural sociologist at Leeds Met University in the mid-1990s. I took voluntary redundancy from Leeds Met in 2010, ending my career there as Professor for Community Engagement. Currently I’m an Emeritus Professor, volunteer, holiday-maker and active grand-dad.
As a volunteer, I’m secretary to the Board of the David Oluwale Memorial Association charity in Leeds, known as RememberOluwale. This is my main commitment. I’m also a Board member of UK Friends of Abrahams Path, based in the UK but with international links. I was on the committee for the discussion group (again in Leeds) called Taking Soundings. I helped set up and continue to support the hub site LeedsforChange. I learned a lot from being on the Board of Together for Peace , based in Leeds from 2010-16. I joined the Labour Party when Jeremy Corbyn became its leader.
I write and take photographs. In 2019 my articles on the Caribbean Carnival (yearning for freedom) and the novels of Caryl Phillips were published. In 2018 I contributed a chapter about David Oluwale to a book edited by Quentin Outram and Keith Laybourn. A 2017 I co-authored a book on the Leeds West Indian Carnival. I’m currently writing a book about Arthur France MBE, founder of the Leeds Carnival, to be published in 2020, and co-writing a book about Big Flame (aiming to publish in 2021). You’ll find my photography mainly on my Facebook page and the RememberOluwale Facebook page. When I remember, I post photos on Instagram.
Here is a summary of my public activity as a curious document called a CV that my university compelled us to write. I keep it fairly up-to-date because it works as a precis of my paid work and political engagement. Max Farrar CV 2020
I’ve lived with Jane Storr since 1971. We married in 2003. Her love and support has been crucial to all that I’ve done since we met at Apsley Grammar School in 1966. We have two children, Rose (b. 1975) and John (b. 1979), a son-in-law, Guy Dixon, a grand-daughter, Miranda (b. 2006), a grand-son, Robert (b. 2008), and a daughter-in-law, Anabel Leibovic Farrar. John and Anabel’s children, Olivia Maria (b. 2011), Don William (b. 2014) and Penelope Rose (b. 2019) bring further joy to our family. All of them are making their own futures.
Lotta Continua: the struggle goes on.
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