It is with great sadness that I note the sudden passing of a dear colleague and friend, Associate Professor Romit Dasgupta, on July 1 2018.
Romit obtained a Bachelor of Economics with First Class Honours in 1986, and a Master of Japanese Studies in 1990 from the University of Western Australia. Starting in 1992, Romit worked in Asian Studies at UWA until 1996, then returning in 2000 to take up a tenured position as a Lecturer.
While lecturing, Romit began his PhD under Vera Mackie at Curtin University, obtaining the Fukami Seizan Scholarship to do research in Japan. His PhD was conferred by Curtin University in 2005, for a dissertation entitled “Crafting masculinity: negotiating masculine identities in the Japanese workplace” which was awarded a Chancellor’s Commendation. Romit also won the Asian Studies Association of Australia President’s Prize for the Best Thesis in Asian Studies in 2006.
Romit undertook pioneering research in gender and sexuality studies, and he is perhaps best known for his seminal monograph Re-Reading the Salaryman in Japan: Crafting Masculinities (Routledge 2012). Romit is known by scholars of Japan for his work on the salaryman, Japanese masculinity and shifts in gender and family practices, as well as his more recent work on Turkish and Japanese connections. His relatively recent entry into Turkish studies was accompanied by a passion for all things Turkish, and was a shift to which Romit was wholeheartedly dedicated. As a mid-career academic he learnt Turkish to fluency, forged relationships with Turkish academics, and enthusiastically took part in the activities of Turkish community in Perth. Romit built a second home at Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, and in October last year his METU colleagues held a commemorative symposium to celebrate his work.
Both as a scholar and friend, Romit was always bringing people together, and his collaborative projects and edited books gathered together junior and senior scholars, postgraduates and professors, Japanese, Turkish, Australian and others. UWA Colleagues note how Romit showed the same warmth and respect to all at the university: to the cafeteria staff and the cleaning staff who met him in the corridor early in the morning, as well as to students and fellow academics. His genuine inclusiveness made him a well-known and well-loved individual in the University.
Romit was quite simply an exceptional person: a teacher, supervisor, colleague and a friend whose energy and broad intellectual curiosity inspired everyone; who tirelessly promoted the work of his colleagues and postgraduate students but never his own; and whose kindness and thoughtfulness marked every relationship.
His scholarly work remains, for those near and far in time and space, but those of us lucky enough to have worked with Romit are beneficiaries of his greater legacy: a model of generous, expansive intellect and the rarest, best, and most human parts of academia.