Michael Banton Obituary

Michael Banton, a distinguished professor of sociology, passed away at the age of 91. He was the first person to hold this position at Bristol University and remained the head of the department until his retirement in 1992.

Apart from his work at Bristol University, he led the Social Science Research Council’s Research Unit on Ethnic Relations from 1971 to 1978, which looked at issues surrounding migration from south Asia, Caribbean and African countries. The unit later moved to Warwick University and became the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations.

In 1978, Michael was selected as a member of the Royal Commission on Bermuda, which investigated the civil disorder that unfolded after the execution of the men responsible for assassinating the then-governor, Sir Richard Sharples. He also served on the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure from 1978 to 1981 and later joined the United Nations committee on the elimination of racial discrimination. Michael held the positions of chairman from 1996 to 1998, and rapporteur from 1990 to 1996 and again from 1998 to 2001. His extensive experience in these positions led to the publication of two books, International Action Against Racial Discrimination (1996) and The International Politics of Race (2002).

Born in Birmingham, Michael was the son of Francis Banton, who worked at a cement company and Kathleen Banton (nee Parkes). He studied at the London School of Economics and was appointed as a lecturer in social anthropology at the University of Edinburgh in 1950. He later became a reader before moving to Bristol.

Michael’s research methodology focused on the relationships between individuals and the choices they make, including those that lead to social exclusion or to increasing one’s social advantage. His book, Racial and Ethnic Competition (1983), explored this theme.

I had the pleasure of working alongside Michael for over 40 years at Bristol University. During our last meeting in 2017, he remained engaged in his work and continued to be a source of intellectual inspiration.

Michael was survived by three children – Dagmar, Ragnhild, and Christopher. His wife Marianne Jacobson passed away in 2007, and he lost his son Nicholas in 1994.


  • oscarcunningham

    Oscar Cunningham is a 41-year-old educational blogger and professor. He has been writing about education for over 10 years, and is known for his expertise on online learning and digital media. Cunningham is also a frequent speaker on these topics, and has given talks at a range of universities around the world. In his spare time, he also enjoys playing the violin and running.

Comments are closed.