The Board of Directors and all members of the Silk Road House grieve over the passing away of David Hooson, a Professor Emeritus of Geography at the University of California at Berkeley. He died on May 16 at Shell Beach, aged 82. Born in a five hundred year old house in the Vale of Clwyd in North Wales, he was an undergraduate at Oxford; his Ph.D. in Geography was from the London School of Economics. Since 1966 he taught at UCB.
Professor Hooson had been among our most ardent and generous supporters — he supported SRH morally, professionally, and even financially. He stood at the very beginning of Silk Road House activity, fostered its actual idea and blessed us for the creation of this center as a “cultural oasis”. More than that, it was he who on April 15th, 2007, opened our series of Sunday lectures with a remarkable introductory talk “Peoples in Between: Silk Road Geography” and donated to SRH a part of his rich and a matchless library. That library is indeed a phenomenal collection of rare geographical books, in English, Russian, and other languages, particularly devoted to the former Soviet Union and the former Soviet Republics in Central Asia, i.e. practically to the whole of Eurasia. Professor Hooson was a pioneer in the American (and apparently in the whole Western) geographical investigation of the former Soviet Union and territories that were once under its control, and that shall not be forgotten. His two early books — “A New Soviet Heartland?” (1964) and “The Soviet Union — A Systematic Regional Geography” (1966) — are still worth close reading and addressing for references. As Robert Gohstand, one of his distinguished students, pointed out, David Hooson was a pioneer and major analyst in revealing the philosophical underpinnings, ideological struggles, and historical antecedents of Russian and Soviet geography to the communities of scholars in the West. Hooson’s own sympathies and inclinations clearly encouraged a unified, integrative and regionally-based approach, exemplified in his own work and in that of many of his students.
Professor Hooson had always been interested in ethnicity and nationalism. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, his enthusiasm was reawakened as his focus shifted to the former Soviet Republics in Central Asia and the Caucusus. His final book was the edited volume “Geography and National Identity” (1994). On our website there are – and always will be — two pictures of David Hooson delivering his memorable introduction to what might be called today the entire scholarly activity at SRH. It’s hard to imagine that warm-hearted loving man and brilliant scholar is not with us anymore. He will be deeply missed and remembered by many. Below see some relevant web links dedicated to David Hooson (1926-2008):
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