Sadly, I have to announce that the former Director of the Refugee Studies Centre, Professor Stephen Castles, has passed away, aged 77, in Australia. Stephen was Director of the RSC from 2001 to 2006. He led the RSC during an important time and spearheaded considerable expansion and change, enabled in part by a huge grant for the Centre from DFID. Impressively, he was also responsible for the establishment (along with Steve Vertovec) of COMPAS and the International Migration Institute.
Stephen was truly one of the greats of migration scholarship and few scholars match him even today for name recognition and breadth of readership. He was a penetrating thinker, who used his rigorous sociological grounding and encyclopaedic knowledge of world migration to puncture prejudice and convenient assumptions about the causes and consequences of the international movement of people. Stephen’s work was renowned for linking seemingly disparate migration events to large-scale global phenomena, notably economic globalisation. His work on migration and social transformation was itself transformative.
Above all, Stephen was a truly humane scholar who saw in academia a way of using research to improve the situation of marginalised and often persecuted people. He was a gentle, kind and available head of the RSC. He made it a better place, just as he did the world as a whole. We are all in his debt. He is survived by his partner, Ellie Vasta, two daughters, Freyja Castles and Jenny Wustenberg, and five grandchildren.
Professor Matthew J. Gibney
Director, Refugee Studies Centre