Collective obituary for James D. Marshall (1937–2021)

Michael A. Peters, Colin Lankshear, Lynda Stone, Paul Smeyers, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Roger Dale, Graham Hingangaroa Smith, Nesta Devine, Robert Shaw, Nesta Devine, Bruce Haynes, Denis Philips, Kevin Harris, Marc Depaepe, David Aspin, Richard Smith, Hugh Lauder, Mark Olssen, Nicholas C. Burbules, Peter Roberts, Susan L Robertson, Ruth Irwin, Susanne Brighouse, & Tina Besley
Published online: 15 Jul 2021

Eulogy for Jim Marshall (read at the funeral)

Michael A. Peters

Beijing Normal University

My deepest condolences to Pepe, Dom and Marcus and to Jim’s grandchildren. Tina and I spent a lot of time at the Marshall family home, often attending dinners for overseas academics, with splendid meals cooked by Bridget who was a brilliant cook and Jim who was a marvellous host. In this way we met Denis Phillips, Michael Matthews, Nick Burbules, Paul Smeyers, Kevin Harris, Paul Ghiraldelli and many other scholars from around the world. Jim and Bridget knew the philosophy of hospitality and the hospitality of philosophy. We have very fond memories and often met Pepe, Dom and Marcus at the Marshall home. We are sorry for their loss.

As Pepe said when she rang me ‘It’s a release for Jim’. He had suffered five years or more of dementia. This was tragic. I did my grieving for Jim five years ago at the point he lost his identity to Alzheimer’s. I was astonished at his gentleness and calmness when I tried to explain who I was. I said ‘Jim you were the Dean of Education at the University of Auckland’ and I tried to explain to him what that meant. He merely replied ‘Was I?’ He gave the same response when I told him his own story of being a world scholar, about the many papers he had given around the world: in London, Oxford, Stanford, and Leuven. He simply said ‘Did I?’

Dementia is a disease of old age that threatens the connections between mind, meaning and personal identity. I know that Jim himself would be capable of expounding on this theme because his life was spent in search of an adequate account of identity. I hesitate to speculate what Jim might have said but he might have said that ‘Alzheimer’s robs the mind of the victim’ and he might also have said quoting Alastair MacIntyre the Canadian philosopher, that ‘we make discursive and narrative sense of ourselves’; that ‘the unity of the self, resides in the unity of a narrative that links birth and death’. Dementia is a savage disease because it takes away personal identity; and it destroys memories. It is a savage irony that Jim wrote about physical identity and personal identity, drawing on philosophers Wittgenstein and Foucault to publish in philosophy journals on themes about personal autonomy and its significance for educational theory, only to be robbed of his own identity in his final years. I think this was very sad.

He left the Navy in 1963 to spend three years at the University of Bristol pursuing his Masters and PhD which he wrote on the identity of material objects, so called ‘identity theory’, a thesis he completed under Stefan Körner, a Czech Jew and a noted Kantian scholar who also specialized in Conceptual Thinking, a title of his second book. And he wrote on the philosophy of mathematics publishing a textbook by that name.

Jim (2005) says in his own words:

There was a lot of logic and informal logic …at Bristol and I was introduced to Russell’s definition of the null class, in terms of those things not identical with themselves. I tried to argue in the dissertation that it was meaningless to talk of a thing, not being identical with itself, and that therefore Russell’s definition of the null class was suspect. The external examiner, Bernard Williams said the dissertation was interesting and this suggested to me that I might pursue identity further. It is only recently I have returned to the topic of identity, but now it is personal identity.

That was Jim in 2005 responding to a question in an interview I conducted for the journal Educational Philosophy and Theory. There is a lot of Jim in that journal; he published seventeen papers in EPAT on topics many on the question of personal identity.

It was a privilege to work with Jim who lived for scholarship, and pursued the scholar’s life. I was privileged to work with him in the same office, at the same computer, taking it at turns to type a sentence or a paragraph. This was in the days before the internet. He taught me in a very tutored way, sharing his thinking in a close reading of texts and genuinely collaborative dialogue. He was a careful and analytical reader never claiming knowledge of thinkers he had not read. He never tried to fudge it. I am forever grateful to him. He taught me how to write and how to think and we wrote many books and papers together. That was my philosophical apprenticeship.

He wrote a great deal by himself before I came on the scene, and after I had departed overseas. Can I mention his work on ‘Personal Autonomy as an Aim of Education’ and ‘The Autonomous Chooser and Reforms in Education.’ His work on ‘A Critical Theory of the Self ‘was intellectually outstanding: he focussed on Foucault and Wittgenstein – two of the greatest intellectuals of our times: one a deeply conservative Austrian counter-Enlightenment thinker; the other, a French intellectual, a Nietzschean ‘Communist’ who historized Marx. Actually, both of them were among the most brilliant thinkers of the century. It’s an interesting combination and Jim was one of the first to combine them in his work. Without being too academic can I say that Jim managed to embrace with consummate ease both sides of analytic and continental philosophy. It showed his flexibility as a thinker, his openness and his ability to embrace new ideas – from the heart of analytic philosophy inaugurated by Russell, Wittgenstein and Frege to Foucault, one of the most left-wing thinkers of his time. That’s a huge shift in thinking. He was a philosophical authority on moral education and the punishment of children. He wrote a prodigious amount on science and educational theory, on neoliberal reforms to education, on policy analysis, and on a whole range of philosophers including Dewey, Rorty, Wittgenstein, Foucault, R.S. Peters. The corpus of his work stretched over many themes in education and philosophy with both a practical and theoretical bent. I did a rough count: Jim produced some 27 books and over 200 academic papers, often for blue-ribbon journals. But this was far from Jim’s mind as he remarked, ‘It’s all runs on the board’. ‘We will leave the counting of our published papers to the officials once we are dead.’ He was consumed by the process of writing and regarded it very seriously but he was never one to push his own barrow. He was modest and self-effacing. He was a generous man when it came to authorship, more intent on mentoring others than grabbing the stage for himself. And he demonstrated his commitment to collegiality through the many collaborations and research partnerships he initiated and was part of, especially with junior colleagues. I published two papers with him and Miles Shepheard in 1981 when we were completing our Masters; Miles in Education and I in Philosophy.

He had a special affection for Colin Lankshear with whom his established the journal Access in 1982. He taught with Colin although never wrote with him except for a few editorials. He also had quite brilliant colleagues in Eric Braithwaite, Roger Dale, Gary McCulloch, Susan Robertson, Alison Jones, Eve Coxon, Graham and Linda Smith, Vivianne Robinson, Roger Peddie, among many, many others. As Dean he was responsible for developing a faculty and department that reflected the best talent in the world with active recruitments and a deliberate shaping of academic culture. While he was Dean he insisted on making his contributions to teaching both at undergraduate and graduate levels, and he supervised a large number of PhD students over the years such as Tina Besley, Nesta Devine, Patrick and Peter Fitzsimons, Andrew Gibbons, Richard Heraud and many others. Mark Barrow, the current Dean of Education and Social Work at Auckland University, was a student of Jim’s. Remarkably, during his years Deaning he was one of the most productive researchers at Auckland University. I really do not know how he managed to balance all of his responsibilities – I suspect at a huge psychological cost to himself personally.

Jim was unusual in that he was trained as an analytic philosopher–you can’t get more analytic than identity theory using maths and logic—and Continental philosophy – Freud along with Wittgenstein and Foucault. And this was in New Zealand in the 1980s and 1990s, a philosophical environment still largely structured by positivism in the social sciences and by Karl Popper’s legacy. But Jim could talk across party lines and he often spoke as a voice from within analytic philosophy, although he did great original work also on John Dewey and American pragmatism. This meant a series of close and ongoing relationships with Denis Phillips, an Australian philosopher at Stanford, Nicholas Burbules at Illinois, and the US learned society PES with many supporters and admirers. If he was close to Colin and wrote a lot with me, he also collaborated and wrote with Paul Smeyers from Leuven and Ghent and strongly supported the Belgium research group that Paul successfully managed for 16 years. He met and worked with Tom Popkewitz in the Belgium Research groups and was personal friends with Mike and Rima Apple who came to NZ during the 1990s to talk about the inequalities generated by neoliberalism.

The remarkable thing about Jim is that he was vitally interested in neoliberalism and the education reforms of Tomorrow’s Schools under David Lange’s administration. Jim wrote about education policy and the relationship between philosophy, policy and education. Another example of this practical and political engagement with education in New Zealand/Aotearoa was his fostering of Kura Kaupapa Maori and Graham and Linda Smith’s agenda as well as Pacifika. He worked with Robert Shaw of the Ministry of Education/SSC and I to initiate the introduction of oral Maori in NZ schools through a pilot project called ‘Te Reo o Te Tai Tokerau’, working with Nga Puhi and other northern tribes in the mid 1980s. He would fondly remember Dave (Paki) Para, Kath and Andy Sarrich, Pani Hauraki, Rehi Rehari and the intrepid group of Maori teachers of te reo in the, then, 13 secondary schools in the Tai Tokerau. On one occasion a group of Maori women stood with him, like a rugby league advertisement, to argue for greater resourcing of the teaching of te reo in Wellington with and against Ministry officials.

He was also Navy and pretty street wise, and someone who could have impromptu fun. One night in Cuba Street we were standing at the bar in one of Wellington’s hotels. There was a rush of well suited Wellington men, not bureaucrats but young businessmen. Jim and I had already had a glass of wine. They introduced themselves and asked ‘And what do you guys do?’ Jim said almost in an instant: ‘We’re undertakers’. I played along saying ‘We have a special on at the moment. We make them to measure’. Jim immediately produced an imaginary tape and started measuring them up. They were completely convinced and ready to buy a coffin on special. He was a special guy. On another occasion in the 1980s in the same bar we jokingly posed as Bendon fashion salesmen for men’s undergarments. And also drain-layers. Taking one look at Jim with a broken nose nobody would question that he was a drain-layer (or me the apprentice); they probably wouldn’t have believed the truth.

Having been in the Navy he had developed a deep espirit de corps necessary for the welfare of the crew at sea. It was natural for him to apply the same principles of welfare at Auckland University. He loved Auckland University, the loved the environment, he loved the natural setting of OGH, he even loved the way the university functioned as a system (although he did not agree with all policies) and he had a huge number of friends there across the disciplines: scholars and academics from across departments, Ranginui Walker in Maori Studies, Tony Spalinger in Eygptology, Warren Moran in Geography, Jane Kelsey from Law. In this obituary I have to quickly mention so many friends and colleagues of Jim that he would have liked me to acknowledge; of course, I alone am responsible for all the people I inadvertently missed out.

Jim was a unique individual. He was certainly a Renaissance man – maths and science, history and philosophy – and a practical guy – navigating his way through life. I remember being very impressed as a PhD student when walking along the shore at Rothesay Bay Jim stopped and rushed into the shallows: with his overstretched palms he flipped a good looking fish on the beach which we had for breakfast. He was definitely one of a kind who was humble about his own achievements. (He was fond of Sean Fitzpatrick’s ‘all credit to the team). And he was a shining beacon for his students, his colleagues, his friends and his readers around the world. He was a fisherman, a philosopher and an educationalist. Dear Jim, happy fishing in the celestial universe!

Michael A. Peters Tairua, Coromandel, NZ, 7th June 2021

Colin Lankshear

Mount Saint Vincent University

In January 1976 I flew up from Christchurch to interview for a Junior Lecturer position in Education at Auckland University, with a focus on philosophy and history of education. When the interview was done I was introduced to Jim Marshall in his office. It was a lovely sunny Aucland day, and it was close to lunch time. Jim suggested we go and sit in the park across the road from the department and share his sandwiches and have a talk before I flew back. It was one of those rare conversations (at least for me) where, by the end of it, I found myself really wanting the chance to spend a lot of time with someone I had never known before. Jim was open, warm, funny – a quirky sense of humour that appealed – and made me feel absolutely relaxed and taken seriously. Given the tight job market in the social foundations area I was hoping very much to be offered the job before I interviewed. After that lunch with Jim in the park in the sunshine I was desperate to get it, and I got it.

In order to start on time I had to leave my partner, pets and car in Christchurch, and rode my 1973 Triumph to Auckland, in convoy with friends. By sheer coincidence my friends were staying with an uncle who was a real estate agent. He lived one bay south of Jim and Bridget’s home in Rothesay Bay on Auckland’s North Shore. Next morning the uncle found me a beach house one bay north of Rothesay Bay – a 5 minute stroll along the beach. Jim and Bridget welcomed me to their home and did absolutely everything they could to settle me in.

On my first home visit Jim and I were talking about Strawson’s argument in Individuals. I was nervous and struggling, wanting to impress, but tripping over myself. I stopped and said to Jim ‘I’m not doing very well, am I?’ Jim said ‘No’ and had a chuckle. ‘Why don’t you start again?’ I did, and we were away. It was the first of so many rich and challenging conversations over fifteen years. Jim never ever argued to win. I saw him as Popperian. He would happily accept a possible refutation in order to move ahead. At the time he was working on the concept of punishment, which he related to the concept of persons, and argued that what we did to young children could not properly be described as punishment to the extent that children had not reached personhood. I disagreed absolutely with this, on multiple grounds; not least that the conceptual point seemed minor relative to the infliction of pain. Besides, I regarded my dog as very much a person by any useful (in my view) conception of personhood.

Despite the fact that I was a thorough pain in the ass, Jim never closed down the conversations. And he eased me gently, caringly and lovingly into academic life. He was the perfect mentor, and generous to a fault. Something I remember acutely was the work and effort he put into his Masters level Philosophy of Education course that had two enrolled students: Miles Shepherd and Michael Peters. I sat in on some of these courses and sae how much education could go on by taking time and care and investing in developing the philosophical disposition and letting arguments go where they would.

Jim was a philosopher of education’s philosopher, a human being’s human being, and the consummate academic colleague. Rest in peace, dear Jim. Thank you.

Lynda Stone

University of North Carolina

I first met Jim Marshall in the early nineteen nineties at international philosophy of education conferences. We were colleagues, friends, collaborators, and husband and wife. Others will contribute to a story of Jim as a New Zealander, as a philosophical collaborator, and as an internationally accomplished scholar. My contribution will focus on our life together in America, in our home with a cat who is still with me, in relation to the town and the university.

Soon after marrying in 2004, he applied for permanent residence status in the United States. Anyone who goes through this process knows its frustration—and Jim was no exception (held up every time we as frequent travellers came through US Customs)! Our small, lovely condominium with its Japanese-inspired little garden is on the main street of the town. It is the home of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s oldest public university. Its location is ideal with free buses right in front taking Jim to used book stores, to the graduate library, to nice restaurants, and to the School of Education. In these years I was still working full time—and still am for one more year as a Distinguished Professor.

When Jim and I married I added a room as his office with surround windows looking out on a small nature conserve. Of course, he still preferred the dining room table. The room became and still is a library and a daily reminder of our shared intellectual interests—shelves of author collections, Foucault, Dewey, among them. During those years, we both wrote and published, attended conferences, and traveled. There are many nations in Europe we visited that I would not have seen were it not for our life together. Especially I recall trips to Britain where he, his first wife, and young children had lived and a train excursion across Northern Italy. We did go on vacations too to New Zealand that he augmented with occasional visits to family.

In Chapel Hill, in the School of Education Jim led several seminars for faculty and graduate students. My job was to be organizer, preparing advertising, space, and readings! Three topics were Foucault, naturally, Simone de Beauvoir, and Enlightenment science. The first seminar was the most successful given Jim’s expertise, but loyal faculty and students did attend all three. Friends will recognize that Jim had no comprehension of his own time either in conference presentations, in the UNC seminars nor in his Foucault lectures to my Ph.D. core course in contemporary epistemology. My job then became standing in the back of the room making the time sign in hopes he would see it! As many Americans and others may understand, the seminars were unusual humanities events, meant to build a broad intellectual culture, among dominant empirical researchers. Post-meeting events at the four-star university hotel across the street from the ed-building added much, via libation, to discussion.

Jim was a unique person, indeed cherished because of his quirks. Ours was a love of older persons whose minds spent a special time together.

Paul Smeyers

KU Leuven University

Sometimes meeting someone at the occasion of one or other academic event marks the start of a lifelong stimulating intellectual relationship, and exceptionally of a lifelong friendship. This happened to me in August 1990 at the second conference of the International Network of Philosophers of Education (INPE) taking place in London. On one of the conference days I happened to sit for lunch at the John Addams Hall next to Jim Marshall. Talking about the conference papers he soon inquired what I was working on. Given my interest in work on Wittgenstein I knew who he was, one of the few philosophers of education who published on Wittgenstein’s insights relevant for philosophy of education, but also interested in Nietzsche. I explained to him that I was struck by the parallels but also differences of the idea of meaning and language in the philosophies of Lacan and Wittgenstein and that I had some notes on that matter. He offered to read it, and already the next day I got it back from him with lots of comments and suggestions. Different from ‘pure’ philosophy where dozens of books and hundreds of articles were published on Wittgenstein, as I said there were not many colleagues in philosophy of education who drew on him, but there were some (for example Jim Macmillan). The idea that this work could possibly be brought together in a collection seemed to me interesting, but I was convinced I could not do this on my own. In August 1991 the family holiday was spent in Denmark, and when writing some postcards I thought why do I not mention this to Jim, and so I invited him to jointly edit a collection on Wittgenstein and education. We talked about it further in 1992 in Varna during another INPE conference and Jim visited me for a week in Leuven in October 1992. Thus, we made a list of possible contributors and a plan for the book. First versions were discussed during another meeting (of a couple of days) in August 1993 and Jim and I jointly wrote the introduction ‘The Wittgensteinian Frame of Reference and Philosophy of Education at the End of the Twentieth Century’ and the ‘Epilogue’ of the book titled Philosophy and Education: Accepting Wittgenstein’s Challenge published in 1995 (fifteen chapters, including Jim’s own on ‘Wittgenstein and Foucault: Resolving Philosophical Puzzles’). The collaboration to jointly edit an international collection in those days was not easy: it required many letters (including floppy disks taking three weeks from Belgium to New Zealand or the other way round), phone calls, faxes –with pages missing – and the gradual start of emails. In all these exchanges I started to get to know Jim, and appreciated his command of Wittgenstein and of philosophy and philosophy of education more generally, his generosity (for example, he carefully corrected so many times my non-native English), his loyalty, his caring for others, his humour, and his patience; it made us lifelong friends.

In the more than three decades that I had the privilege to work with him and to enjoy his company this was only the first episode. Jim invited me to Auckland (September–October 1996) and introduced me to Nick Burbules (we shared an office and a computer), to Michael Peters, and to many colleagues from New Zealand. When I arrived he met me at the airport at 6 am and had a box for me with coffee, snacks, and some other things to get me through the first day. He had arranged accommodation for me at the Old Government House in the rooms where R.S. Peters stayed when visiting him two decades before me. He helped me with all kinds of practical things and I had the pleasure to be invited to his house and to meet his wife. Jim turned out to be a perfect host. We discussed many things including the starting up of the Leuven Research CommunityPhilosophy and History of the Discipline of Education (established in 1999, final meeting 2018) in which he turned out to be a very active member. Later Jim stayed three months in Leuven (November 1997–February 1998), and it goes without saying that we saw each other at various conferences all over the world. It was at the meeting of the Research Community, exceptionally not in Leuven but in Nürnberg, Germany (2011) that I saw him in person for the last time. I will always remember him as the gentle wise colleague who preferred to keep silent when he did not appreciate a paper and refrained from negative comments, but also as someone who with the insertion of a simple remark would open up very relevant perspectives not yet addressed in the discussion. I was always glad to see him and I am very grateful to have known him for a very large part of my career and life.

Linda Tuhiwai Smith

Graham and I were very saddened to hear that Jim had died. He was a big part of the development of Māori Education at the University of Auckland when we started there from 1989 and through the 1990s. He was our mentor, our champion, our ally and we trusted his advice. He was also kind, witty and had lots of funny stories. First year students were drawn into his story telling through which he taught philosophy of education but was then upset that they took no notes! I remember Jim telling me that my first PhD topic sucked. He didn’t think my interest in health was productive and told me to go away and write a proposal that reflected my real passion. Well, I had many threads of interest and wrote the thesis that ended up forming the first part of Decolonising Methodologies which is now in its third edition. I still have my interest in health as well and have worked more in health than education in recent years. E moe e te rangatira. Rest in peace.

Roger Dale

University of Bristol

I first met Jim when I arrived in Auckland to take up my Professorship in the Education Department 1989 to which I had been appointed some time before. It was, necessarily, I suppose, quite a daunting prospect, coming into the leading Department of Education in the country–-about which I knew little, but which I came to love and enjoy enormously. My welcome could hardly have been more positive. I had arrived during the longest dock strike for many years so was unable to access furniture, belongings, etc. During this crisis I was already learning quite a lot about Jim, all of it wholly positive and generous, and quickly developing an interpersonal friendship that lasted for the rest of my time in New Zealand; indeed I stayed with him and Bridget for quite some time before my furniture arrived.

This welcome became deeply embedded in all my dealings with Jim, and we quickly discovered that we shared not only a strong interest in sport (he as a participant, me as a spectator), but in jazz (where his knowledge and understanding quite outstripped mine).

Professionally, he was an effective and well respected HoD, but I never felt that he enjoyed the role very much. I suspect it was because it was a distraction from his work in philosophy of education, in which he seemed to be taking an ever expanding, and deepening interest and recognition. This continued well beyond his formal retirement. Indeed, in revisiting his work I was reminded again of the range and depth of his contribution to philosophy of education, and the full extent of the recognition he received from his peers in the discipline. Jim was a serious and highly respected philosopher of education, not least to his many adoring students.

Graham Hingangaroa Smith

Massey University

Jim was a great friend and academic mentor to myself and to Maori education development generally at the University of Auckland – He was a staunch and fierce advocate for social justice in and through education – one of his quotes that exemplifies this is ‘that every person has an inalienable right to an education; and therefore an inalienable right to succeed or to fail!’

Nesta Devine

Auckland University of Technology

Farewell for Jim Marshall

I was Jim’s student for about 20 years, on and off, and subsequently, I feel honoured to have been one of his friends.

I came to philosophy of education late, and not especially well prepared, but came to value Jim’s acuity, his careful, patient analysis and logical construction of an argument. Early in his career I think he would be described as an analytic philosopher (for instance in his work on Gilbert Ryle, in 1975 and 2009), and the analytic bent, the care with words, with the structure of philosophic claims, with the validity of argument, remained central to his thinking. He embraced post-structural thinkers like Foucault, Derrida and Lyotard long before they were commonly read in our part of the world, and brought to them the same painstaking reading, and ethical concerns with which he read the previous more standard philosophers. I think the intermediate points were Wittgenstein (e.g. 2009), Camus, de Beauvoir, with their emphases on language, subjectivity, materiality. He saw continuity in the history of western philosophy as well as rupture and critique.

Jim’s emphasis on tolerance as recognition of difference led him beyond the arrogance that too often accompanies philosophy. His research, with Michael Peters, in Te Tai Tokerau confirmed for him that there were ‘other’ ways of thinking that should be incorporated in academe. He was generous in welcoming into philosophy of education many of us who were not traditionally welcome there – women, Maori, Pacific, international students and scholars. In his time as Dean or Head of School the School of Education at the University of Auckland was arguably the best in the southern hemisphere. With Michael, Roger Dale, Eve Coxon, Alison Jones, Susan Robertson, and others whom I did not personally encounter, the School was an intellectually invigorating environment for graduate students. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have struck this time and place at a time in my own life when I desperately needed it.

Jim had a healthy respect for teaching, the art(s) of pedagogy, which foreshadowed the work of Gert Biesta, and an encyclopaedic knowledge of the currents and undercurrents of the lives and contexts of French twentieth century philosophers, which added enormously to our pleasure and understanding of the works of Foucault, Derrida and others. I was particularly interested in his prolonged interest in the matter of ‘identity’, the nature and politics of ‘the subject’. This was significant to me because my doctoral thesis hinged on the nature of ‘homo economicus’, but Jim had been in pursuit of the ‘autonomous individual’ for many years before I came to this study. He had an antenna for generalisations and claims concerning the nature of the human being that allowed no broad claim to pass unchallenged.

My daughter Ruth Irwin and I kept in touch after he retired. His last few years were not the ones he envisaged when he wrote: … my possible wish to die like Thomas Hobbes, still disputing philosophically, in my bed, in my 80 s, as I drift away on a cloud of claret, or was it brandy (or perhaps it will be the modern version of morphine)? (2004a, p. 465) Yet he remained himself: and this is a problem for students of subjectivity which he himself addressed in a paper written in 2004):

‘Being young and athletic was part of me and my identity at one time, but no longer, we might say. Yet I am the same individual, I would also say’. And I would agree with him: until the end, despite all, he was the same courteous, charming, engaging man, even when one could no longer engage with him.

Robert Shaw


Jim was an inspiring teacher at the University of Auckland in the 1970s. He dispatched arguments from students and staff alike. I remember well his intense determination to make clear every step of his reasoning. He was aligned to the interests of students, both those in universities and those in schools. He went to war against various university officials and colleagues, all in the cause of intellectual virtues, academic quality and institutional efficiency. My involvement with Jim developed when I became responsible for the contracting of research by the State Services Commission, the Ministry of Education and finally the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology. It was natural for me to seek Jim out (and his junior, Michael Peters) to take responsibility for complex evaluations and to contribute to innovation within the state sector. Having Jim in such roles sounds obvious now, but at that time there were questions about why philosophers of education, and not sociologists or psychologists or indeed anyone who wanted to measure things, were employed as evaluators. Ministers of the Crown and senior government officials (including those in Treasury) had to be convinced. Jim was the first philosopher to be funded by the Ministry of Education’s contract research programme, which at that time was the largest social science research programme in Aotearoa. Looking back, I believe the taxpayer had a good return on the investment. In addition to the contracted requirements being satisfied on time and within budget, papers were published and personal engagements brought forward new ideas such as those about the role of the community in education, the role of the evaluator in policy evaluations, and the place of te reo Maori in our schools. Equally important, informally Jim gave of his time freely and made many friends in schools, government and the community. The result was that people who might never had entered or advanced in a university came to complete higher degrees. Innovations which might never have occurred in classrooms and schools happened because Jim had seen merit in the attempt. He gave people the confidence they needed to try. Jim was no retreating theorist. He demonstrated how the university could be relevant in policy development within central government, curriculum development within schools and in the enhancement of regional institutions. In the work with Maori in schools, innovation in assessment and teacher education walked hand in hand. Was it all so rosy and fine? Yes it was with the perspective we have now, but at the time there were conflicts, power-plays, and emotional scenes. We worked through them—I believe to the betterment of everyone involved. I came to understand that education in our country advances by way of projects that rise on enthusiasm, are maintained for a time, and then decline as people move on. Each project leaves a residue. Jim left his mark.

Bruce Haynes

Charles Darwin University

I first met Jim at the PESA Conference in Auckland in 1976. Nothing particularly remarkable stands out in our intellectual exchanges during the conference but this may have more to do with the context in which we met.

That conference is memorable for me, not just because it was the first PESA Conference I had attended and I was comparing it to the three PES Conferences I had attended in the preceding years. It was the conference at which Jim Walker and Kevin Harris took on the dual tasks of confronting Les Brown (Editor and Owner of Educational Philosophy and Theory) and confronting Paul Hirst (in his own right and as de facto representative of the London School –later APEs). Just to add a distinctive flavor to all this was the brewing fight between the Catholics and the Marxists. In the midst of all these alarums and excursions I found in Jim a person with whom I could talk and whose careful, reasoned argument was worthy of close attention.

More significant than the conference was the fact that, at its conclusion, I was going to Rotorua to see if I could catch my first trout. Jim invited me to call in to his place in the Bay of Islands after my adventure. I caught the Railway Bus north wondering how I might break the news that I was troutless. Arriving in town at an unconscionably early hour, I boarded a charter boat going out fishing. When I knocked on Jim’s door at midday, I refused his invitation to enter and have a whitebait lunch but, instead requested he accompany me downtown to assist. Between us we carried the 47 lb kingfish up the main street and subsequently lunched. Thus began the long Haynes-Marshall fishing competition which, strangely enough, seemed only to take place in Jim’s home waters. At least one of us was a competitive soul. The other strange feature of this competition was that in the ensuing 30+ years neither of us caught a fish. I insisted I won with my one fish but Jim insisted the competition did not start until after lunch.

I had the great pleasure of arranging a sabbatical for Jim at Edith Cowan University in Perth. As there were no teaching or other specific duties associated with this appointment it gave Jim time to read, write and take train trips (but no fishing). I valued the opportunity to have lengthy conversations with him, a benefit that was less forthcoming when I went to Auckland in 1997 for 6 months leave. There Jim had the duties of Dean and I had a light teaching load which included some off-campus teaching that required a fishing stop en route. Jim had discovered the delights of Foucault and other French writers and I hoped to use my time with him to see if I too should engage with them (in translation). My background in history made Foucault’s archaeology/genealogy/history of thought less radical than those brought up solely on analytic philosophy saw it. Another of Jim’s driving passions did interest me – the impact of the neo-liberal revolution on education and society in New Zealand.

Apart from fishing, my major disappointment was that Jim could not join me to hear Graham Hingangaroa Smith deliver the inaugural PESA Jim Marshall lecture honouring Jim’s concern for Maori education.

Jim Marshall has one continuing impact on my life. I married his secretary – Robina.

Thank you Jim.

Denis Phillips

Stanford University

When I first met Jim Marshall, almost fifty years ago, I knew nothing of his background, but I surmised that it probably was an unusual one for a philosopher. His seminar seemed a tad formal, with Jim sitting at the front, upper body absolutely vertical and stiff as a ramrod. It was reminiscent, I later thought, of depictions I had seen of military briefing sessions, with the C.O. firmly in charge – and, of course, he had indeed spent his early adult years as an officer in the NZ navy, and this had forever shaped him. And his stocky physical appearance indicated great strength which I thought was probably not taken advantage of while serving on an aircraft carrier (Jim, I Iearned, had been an exchange officer with the Royal Navy); but I eventually discovered he had put his physique to good use on the rugby field. (He was an ‘All Blacks’ man, through and through.) It must be rare for a person with this background to pause, take stock, and opt to become a student of philosophy – indeed Kantian philosophy; but this is what Jim did, eventually taking a solid bachelor’s degree and then a doctorate with the distinguished Kantian scholar at Bristol University, Stephan Korner.

Jim’s subsequent philosophical interests were remarkable: He had in-depth acquaintance with the writings of John Dewey and Ludwig Wittgenstein (Korner had studied with Wittgenstein), and he worked for many years assiduously penetrating Lyotard, Foucault and numerous other Continental philosophers and attempting to make clear the relevance of their thought for philosophical problems in education. And his circle of ‘significant others’ reflected these interests –for instance, he was a key member of an international working group that met regularly in Leuven in Belgium, which produced an impressive number of books which had his fingerprints throughout.

When in his prime Jim was a charming host; he loved conversation, his beer and wine, and especially the products of his beloved ocean. I have vivid memories of him rowing out in the early morning from the beach near his home, to check the catch of the day in his fishing nets, and strolling with him along the beach armed with a bucket and spade – intent on playing havoc with the mollusc population.

Are there beaches in heaven?

Kevin Harris

Macquarie University

Vale Jim Marshall: Goodbye Sailor.

We all know Jim Marshall the academic, and there are many others far more qualified to write about that side of Jim than I am. I wish to make this a recollection, not specifically of an academic colleague but of Jim, my friend. However, one must recognise his incredible academic ability to engage with and master as much as he did. Maybe it was the sailor in him; he was forever moving, restless, going somewhere new.

When I first met Jim in 1975, he was deeply into conceptual analysis and particularly the concept of ‘punishment’. When he invited me to Auckland to take over his post-graduate class in 1992 they were studying Foucault. And in between he had mastered and devoured Dewey, Wittgenstein, and pragmatism; he had spent time in Paris so as to read Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Foucault and Lyotard in the original (and had his wallet pinched on the Metro for his efforts); he tangled with, and supervised Doctoral theses on Nietzsche; and the INPE Conference in Sydney was left in no doubt regarding the depth of his understanding of Postmodernism. Add to all of that his Headship of the Department of Education at Auckland, his Editorship of Access, his Presidency of PESA; his mentoring of staff and students; his ongoing commentary on educational issues in New Zealand (the Picot Report springs to mind.); his massive publication output; and we have a rare academic of the very highest order.

Although a Sydneysider, I was fortunate to benefit from much of that as Jim was a regular visitor to Sydney for Conferences, and more so when his daughter married and settled here. Jim also invited me, twice, to act as Visiting Professor in his Department which afforded us extended periods to be together. It was on these occasions, both in Sydney and Auckland, that my wife Maureen and I encountered another side of Jim.

I initially declined my first invitation (1989) as it was not a good time to leave Maureen and a young child behind. Jim’s solution was to bring them with me. He arranged suitable accommodation and a car for us, and we had the additional pleasure of many evenings’ company with Jim and his wife, Bridget. Here we learnt that Bridget had a heart disorder which inevitably, and in a single instant, would cause her death: what affect this had on Jim is impossible to imagine. On my second visit (1992) I came alone, and when problems arose with the University’s accommodation Jim and Bridget took me into their home for over a month. Here our friendship really bloomed, especially with weekends spent just talking on Jim’s balcony as he constantly looked out at the sea.

And there was another special time, at a large Education Conference held at the resort town of Coffs Harbour. In the Opening Address the Organiser announced that this was to be a friendly Conference in which the presenters should feel secure, and as there were philosophers in attendance it had been decided that there would be no questions or discussion following the papers. He then asked us all to shake hands with, and/or hug, the people either side of us. Jim and I walked out; and with three days before our return flights took off we spent the time beside the pool, on the Marina and at the beach. We just talked: not much philosophy; just politics, current affairs, our children, universities, cricket and of course football – rugby for Jim and real footy (which Jim never understood) for me. Jim always sat facing the water, and as the conversations progressed his voice became softer, he spoke more slowly and his familiar tension dissipated. It was just two people quietly sharing life’s experiences, and at mealtimes we drank mineral water. We were more than academic colleagues: we were friends.

But my happiest memory of Jim is of a day when he came to my house for lunch. Maureen had a bottle of red ‘breathing’ on the table, but when Jim came in he handed his wine glass to her and smiled: ‘I’m clean’. We all had a beautiful afternoon together.

This was not the case the last time I met Jim, over dinner at a Melbourne restaurant. Tragically, the demons had come back for him. They are all gone now. Sail away on smooth seas, dear friend.

Marc Depaepe

KU Leuven University

To my memory James will live on as an intellectual who effortlessly combined humanity with scientific expertise. And as far as the latter is concerned, he had no problem at all connecting different points of view. In several discussions we have had together, he was able to jump from the historical argument to the philosophical with regard to education. As a result, he could be considered as a generalist in the educational sciences and, as it were, personified what our Leuven research community stood for during all the years of its existence. We certainly will miss him…

David Aspin

Monash University

I first met dear James (‘Jim’) Marshall in Manchester in July 1969. We were both candidates for a post in the Education Faulty of Manchester University. He was working on a PhD at Bristol on ‘identity theory’; I was writing mine up on ‘Metacausation and mind’ and was the one appointed. We didn’t meet again after that until 1985, though I remained aware of his work in the intervening years, and I was deeply impressed by and particularly taken with his work on ‘punishment’ (still in use today) and with his work on themes related to personal identity.

He and I met again in 1986 at the Conference of the Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia at Hobart Tasmania, where we both gave papers. His paper on ‘evaluation & education’ was as well-researched and presented as we expected from Jim’s philosophical forte and called forth much discussion. I was delighted when I received from Jim an invitation to be a Visiting Professor at Auckland, which I took up in 1987. During my time working with him there, we became good friends and respectful colleagues. I was pleased to invite him to visit me at King’s College London, which he accepted in the same year. He was heard with great respect and his wide-ranging overview and command of work in philosophy enabled him to add substantially to work and theory in philosophy of education going on then in London.

By then Jim had become an international scholar in the field of Philosophy of Education. He had visited the UK many times and became good friends with R. S. Peters, whom he invited to Auckland in the early 1980s. Jim wrote important papers published in the Journal of Philosophy of Education, having already published in Educational Philosophy and Theory and in Access. He had also written a number of books and contributed to many others (in two of which I was Editor). His scholarly publications were of a considerable range, extremely well regarded, and –especially in New Zealand – highly influential. But he also travelled widely and participated in conferences in the UK, in the USA, and in Europe and elsewhere. He was an important figure in the founding and running of the ‘International Network of Philosophy of Education’, where he was a welcome contributor. This was also true of his presence at conferences of societies of philosophy of education, where he and I met up quite often, and at other universities in Australia and New Zealand.

Jim and I got on well and warmly as friends and this was especially true of my time with him in Auckland and his visits to London and to Australia. We had friendly debates on philosophical matters, with me pursuing my interest in post-empirical thinking; and with Jim by then developing his work on Foucault, Lyotard and Derrida. We both had continued to develop our work on the philosophy of Wittgenstein. Such work and the discussions arising from them were always warm and collaborative, even though our paths started to grow distant as our positions as academics at Monash and Auckland brought us increased burdens of responsibility. At handling these, I believe Jim set all of us a leading example of how to handle administrative responsibility yet how to keep on generating research leadership at the same time.

His passing is a sad loss to all of us, who have benefitted from our contacts and relations with him. He has conferred a singular gift and enormous benefits to the world of education and its philosophical aspects that will last for many years to come.

Richard Smith

Durham University

What sad news. Jim was very good to me in a number of ways and it was a continual pleasure to meet him regularly. A short sentence for the funeral: ‘There’s a great spirit gone’. (Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra)

Hugh Lauder

University of Bath

Jim Marshall was present at the start of my academic career and in another guise, more recently. At the start, he was an external examiner at my PhD oral. His flight from Auckland was late landing because of fog at Christchurch airport. He quizzed me for five hours, had a debate with the internal examiner, my supervisor Brian Haig, and before arriving with the overseas external Kevin Harris, asked me a series of sharp questions and at the end threw down his pen and declared that he was going to the pub and we were welcome to join him.

I got to know Jim well after that initial fraught encounter and I found that my first meeting summed up all that I subsequently learned about him. He had a piercing intellect that could dissect a weakness, he was always combative and a great colleague and drinking companion. When I was invited to the Education Department at Auckland all these qualities came to the fore. It was a great place to be intellectually and socially. At the time he was Chair of the Department and it was as good if not better than any. The list of luminaries was extraordinary, and many will be contributing to this special issue of EPAT including former doctoral students who are now distinguished academics in their own right.

Jim took his Doctorate at the University of Bristol and while there he was best man for a Kiwi friend at my local village church in Combe Down. Our lives had come full circle in a certain sense. In the meantime, he went from strength to strength in terms of his own academic work, especially later in his career. I have cited his work in my latest book, although my own writing had moved from Philosophy of Education to political economy. Nevertheless, his work was wide enough and relevant to these difficult times to gain the attention it deserves.

Jim is someone who was larger than life even at this sad moment and was signal in my development.

Mark Olssen

University of Surrey

Jim was a big support to me when things were not so smooth at Otago many years ago, and I recall he came especially down as a visiting Professor for about ten days at one point. During his visit, Jim attended my classes, especially the class on radical psychology that I ran with John Morss, using the book Changing the Subject, by Valerie Walkerdine, et al. as the major text. Jim regularly came home for meals and my partner, Judith, took him on a visit to Olverston, an old historic house in Dunedin. Judith later gave Jim some of her own writing and sure enough, a couple of months later, her manuscript arrives back in the post with Jim’s detailed comments and suggestions, for which she was so grateful. As she was not one of Jim’s students, nor even registered at Auckland University, I recall reflecting on Jim’s generosity and kindness in counting anyone as a student who approaches him. Very non-neoliberal, I thought! On another occasion Jim recounted to me one day that he had gone to meet my head of department. It doesn’t matter to me, he proffered, but is important for you. He was correct, of course, and his presence in my Department, plus his taking time to visit the HOD, all reflected positively on me, a service for which I was grateful. More importantly, however, such behaviours deepened my appreciation of Jim as a person. He took his role as a senior colleague very seriously.

In a way, too, as I began to realise, these sorts of considered behaviours reflected upon Jim’s moral character and moral sense, a sense that shone through in his old-fashioned sense of commitment, judgment, kindness, and annoyance or at times, even outrage at things he took strong exception to. Partly, it was this moral sensibility containing an implicit judgement for things that are right, of behaviours that are appropriate, for considerations for what ought to be, that motivated my own quest to construct a moral theory for Foucault, to be published in a book by Manchester University Press in June this year. Jim is thanked in the front page, along with others who have now passed along, who influenced my life and work. Hopefully, if I may muse, it might go some way to providing a broad justification for the types of judgments that Jim made in his life, and that maybe in part helps explain the anxieties that he faced and the tensions that he wrestled with.

Such an old-fashioned moral sensibility was integral to Jim’s behaviour, and I suspect, the source of many of the difficulties which so marked his life. It manifested itself in innumerable situations, every day, in everything he did, from moment to moment. When I later took up duties as external moderator for the School of Education at Auckland, Jim met me at the airport and took me to stay with him and Bridget, at their home at Rothesay Bay, for the first night of my visit. It was a gesture which I deeply appreciated. After that first night I was accommodated in the University of Auckland ‘little house’ that was opposite the Hyatt hotel at the bottom of Waterloo Quadrant, where Education ‘hung out’ at the time, next to the Hyatt, in the Fisher Building. Jim escorted me there personally and settled me in. They were great days!

Jim’s scholarly influence on me related to his serious interest in the writings of Michel Foucault, whom we both shared as an intellectual mentor and guide. Foucault dominated Jim’s work as an always present background influence in the philosophy of education, and several of my own articles – on autonomy, and on Wittgenstein importantly – paid special attention to Jim’s work. That a senior philosopher of education should take Foucault seriously in the way Jim did so well, was an especially important influence for a younger academic. Jim provided mentoring, guidance, and leadership for me in the absence of suitable and available expertise at the University of Otago, where I was largely without intellectual support of a serious philosophical sort.

Two years ago, while on temporary contract to AUT for the PBRF, I indicated to Nesta Devine that I wished to see Jim, and Nesta organized a visit to the care home that Jim was residing in. While at one level this was a sad experience, in that Jim didn’t recognize either of us, we spent about 45 minutes with him, and our strategy became that of reminding Jim who he was, how important he was, and who he knew. We left him with a box of chocolates, which we noted to each other he seemed to really enjoy. I knew as we left that that would be the last time I would ever see Jim – and it was.

Nicholas C. Burbules

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I first met Jim when he was visiting Denis Phillips at Stanford. I was a beginning graduate student and no one knew me. But Jim, then and in years to follow, was supportive and encouraging. I owe him for organizing a sabbatical for me in the 90’s that in many ways changed my career. At that time he was Dean in the School of Education at University of Auckland, and he actually let me use his office while he worked elsewhere.

Many will remember Jim as a gruff and uncompromising philosopher, but I remember him as a kind and generous man who helped me and many other young scholars.

During those months at Auckland, Jim, Michael Peters, myself, and another visitor, Paul Smeyers, formed a reading group on Wittgenstein. Jim was our leader. Together we developed a shared view that Ludwig Wittgenstein was an underappreciated theorist about education (like many ‘real’ philosophers, his ideas about education were considered subsidiary to his serious philosophical work). This reading group turned into a collaboration that extended across the next two decades, in which all of us, individually and in various pairings, produced a large body of work about Wittgenstein and education.

Years later, Jim became one of the founding members of the Research Community in History and Philosophy of Education, organized by Paul, which met every fall in Leuven, Belgium for at least 16 years. The RC, funded by the Belgian government, was a sparkling group of scholars. Every year we presented papers on a theme which eventually was edited into a book. The RC was probably the most stimulating and convivial ongoing scholarly partnership I have ever belonged to – and Jim was an active contributor from the very beginning.

I think it was at the RC that he met Lynda Stone, whom I had known in graduate school. This is the story I told on the occasion of their marriage:

A priest and a nun were driving to an event, and as a storm whipped up they sought shelter at a small hotel. ‘You are welcome to stay,’ said the owner, ‘but you will have to share a room.’ When they checked in, the priest insisted that the nun take the bed and he would sleep on the couch.

During the night, the nun said, ‘Father I am very cold.’ He got up, went to the closet, and got her an extra blanket. A while later, she said again, ‘I am still cold,’ and he got up and got her another blanket.

After a while she said, ‘Father, I am still very cold. Do you think that just for this night we might act as husband and wife?’

To which he replied, ‘Sure. Get your own damn blanket.’

And I added, To Jim and Lynda, may you have plenty of blankets.

And today I say, Jim wherever you are I hope you have plenty of blankets to keep you comfortable.

Jim has gone now, and death has come as a final release, surely. Yet, for me, at least, and for so many other people, I know, his influence lives on in their lives and in their work. Long live Jim!

Peter Roberts

University of Canterbury

I first met Jim Marshall almost four decades ago. I was an undergraduate student at the University of Auckland, and among Jim’s teaching responsibilities was a Stage One introductory course on Western educational thought. Jim taught the course with Colin Lankshear, and Michael Peters was my tutor. I have fond memories of that course, and it was pivotal in developing my interest in philosophy of education. Jim brought to his teaching a deep understanding of his field, a highly perceptive mind, an openness to new ideas, and a healthy mix of seriousness and humour. In his leadership roles as a Head of Department and Dean, he played a key role in advancing other careers and in building, in the 1990s, one of the strongest groupings of scholars in the philosophical, sociological, historical, and indigenous study of education in the world. Jim was a pioneer in exploring, through detailed philosophical investigation, the significance of Michel Foucault’s work for educationists. His early publications on Foucault are now standard reading for anyone wanting to get to grips with scholarship in this area. Jim formed academic friendships with many people, both within and beyond New Zealand, but his relationship with Michael Peters was particularly notable. Michael’s tremendous intellectual energy was an inspiration to Jim, as it has been for so many others, and together, Jim and Michael co-authored numerous books, articles and chapters. Michael and Jim were able to bring out the best in each other, and their co-authored works continue to leave an important mark in philosophy of education and educational policy studies. Jim’s legacy will live on not only through his many publications but also through the influence he has exerted over generations of other academics in his many years of service at the University of Auckland.

Susan L. Robertson

University of Cambridge

I first met Jim in Perth, Western Australia in the mid-1990s when he was a Visiting Fellow at Edith Cowan University. Jim’s host, Dr. Bruce Haynes, was the resident philosopher in my Department, and I was soon to learn that this was a tight knit intellectual bunch who had worked closely together over a number of years on the philosophy of education. Jim was gracious enough to come and meet a class that I was teaching and talk about his work on Michel Foucault. Jim was erudite, had a deep knowledge of Foucault’s work and other continental philosophers such as Deleuze, and a publishing profile to be envied.

As the accident of life unfolds, a year later (1996) I found myself in the Faculty of Education at the University of Auckland. I had been appointed as a Lecturer in the Sociology of Education. I was to spend four years there before leaving for the UK. My memory of this period is an exceptionally happy one. It was intellectually stimulating, friendly, political and highly social period of time for me. I remember wonderful occasions at Jim and Bridget’s house, over fabulous cooking, wonderful wine and great talk. I would routinely bump into Jim and Bridget at AERA, always hosted in April in one of the big USA cities, though Chicago stands out. On visits back to Auckland, Roger and I would find time to catch up with Jim; by this time Bridget had sadly passed away. I’ll always remember Jim for his passion for philosophy, for the generation of now leading scholars he supervised, his hospitality and friendship, and his love of sailing. Sail on Jim, you have now found a safe harbour to rest.

Ruth Irwin

University of Melbourne

Jim Marshall was a wonderfully dry and humane man, who has made a huge impact on New Zealand education. Jim was very interested in ethics and putting ideas into action. He was deeply reflective, and interested in embodies, emotional, irrational as well as rational subjectivity. This complex reading of the human being lead to ethical praxis. He was passionate about supporting minorities, including women, diversity in culture and especially Maori biculturalism.

Jim was deeply troubled by the shift in education from the full, rich education promoted by great thinkers such as Dewey, which foregrounds respect for diversity, culture, gender, and environment, to an impoverished version of education as training and vocational certification. Jim is best known for his sustained and early critique of neoliberalism. He traced the root ideas of individual rational autonomy back to its origins in Enlightenment metaphysics. He explored how those Enlightenment thinkers were themselves much richer and more nuanced in their understanding of subjectivity and scepticism, including such diverse philosophers as Rousseau, Wollstonecraft, Kant, and Montaigne. Along with a tight knit group of colleagues across New Zealand, Jim showed how Enlightenment thought had been warped into a narrow and reductive framework which he characterised as the ‘rational, individual, autonomous chooser’. He developed this critique further in the work on ‘busnocratic rationality’ which was a forerunner for later critique of New Public Management. Jim’s empirical, theoretical, and policy analysis forged politically and ethically engaged work.

Jim made great use of Foucault, Lyotard, and Hannah Arendt in his critical account of neoliberalism and his defence of the democratic State. I did a Master’s course with him in the 1990s with a focus on the ethics of punishment. Jim had collated incredible readings that completely reversed my assumptions about disciplinary techniques. He took us on a journey which showed how discipline builds on assumptions of guilt and misdemeanour (or original sin) rather than assuming people are generally responsible and well meaning, with occasional slip ups and aberrant behaviour which requires retrospective sanction. Jim taught me to trace fundamental philosophical assumptions about subjectivity and relationships that underpin policy and practice.

He had a background as an Officer in the Navy, but Jim could have started the movement of ‘leading with vulnerability.’ He held authority without being authoritarian. Good leadership enables people to thrive to their full potential, and Jim had a long history of making excellent hires. He was not threatened by anyone else’s intellect. He allowed space for all those people to generate great projects, really good courses, and research institutes. The inaugural Indigenous Research Institute, IRI, was initiated within the Faculty of Education with Jim’s support. The ongoing impact of these initiatives are still visible throughout New Zealand’s education fraternity.

Jim was a dry, kind, generous and astute man. He laid a lasting foundation for a generous and philosophically mature education in New Zealand and internationally. His legacy is vibrant, and I’m very grateful that he was part of the formation of my own education and life path.

Susanne Brighouse

Educational Philosophy and Theory Editorial Office

In the mid-nineties a friend encouraged me to take up a Masters degree in Education. I had a BSc from years earlier and hence with no BA degree I did not meet the criteria to study for an MA at the University of Auckland where I wanted to study. I was interviewed by Jim and he made it possible by wangling some criteria and I enrolled in an MEd.

Coming from a science background in mathematics, I had never written an essay at university level and had absolutely no idea of the meaning of so many philosophical concepts. The material I was given to read in philosophy of education was almost completely beyond me but with help of a Dictionary of Philosophy, my colleague Peter Fitzsimons, lecturer Michael Peters and especially Jim’s encouragement I persevered.

Jim supervised the writing of my thesis and he was a perfect choice for me as I needed a great deal of encouragement. He gave of his time willingly. I would meet him on the deck of his home in Rothesay Bay and he would patiently question me on my writing, always gently and with very helpful guidance. He would then set the next chapter challenge and when I had written that he would give me hours of his time on that deck to make sure I was going in the right direction and understood what I had written or what his suggestions meant. He seemed to be able to explain difficult concepts with his razor-sharp mind in a way I could understand. And if I didn’t, he would patiently repeat with from a slightly different angle. But for him I would have given up with the task unfinished and been disappointed forever.

It meant I had enough knowledge in the field to accept the role of Managing Editor for Educational Philosophy and Theory nearly twenty years ago. I think of Jim often as I so enjoy this position that his tutoring led me into. It was a delight to meet him again years later when he gave a Key Note address at the 2011 PESA conference. He is a giant from the field of Educational Philosophy and I am sure is sorely missed by his family, colleagues and the other current giants in the field. However, his legacy will go on in the minds of all the scholars he encouraged, such as mine, the colleagues he worked with over many years and in all his written contributions to the important field of Educational Philosophy.

My consolations to all his family and friends.

Tina Besley

Beijing Normal University

‘And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!’ (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 3)

After studying at Universities of Canterbury and Massey and a career as secondary school teacher and at the time a school counsellor, I came to the University of Auckland to take up a PhD in Education, focussing on counselling, with Jim Marshall and Hans Everts (from counselling) as co-supervisors that made for some interesting discussions among different philosophical positions. Sometimes I ended up mediating between Hans who was essentially a humanistic therapist and Jim who as a Foucaultian was suspicion of humanist theories and explanations, especially those that promised ‘liberation’ or ‘emanicpation’. Jim preferred poststructuralist and Nietzschean arguments. Early on my thesis topic changed after Jim insisted ‘you must read Foucault…You must read Discipline & Punish.’ Then of course, the next logical step was to read Discipline and Punishment in New Zealand Education, 1997, written by Jim and his son Dominique. So as I said in the 2006 Festschrift for Jim, Postfoundationalist Themes In The Philosophy of Education: Festschrift for James D. Marshall:

I lay the blame almost entirely at Professor James Marshall’s door for my beginning to read Michel Foucault…I am indebted to Jim for his support and encouragement, questions, comments and expertise in different areas. Jim’s scholarship on Foucault, philosophy and education has been invaluable. He has helped me to clarify my thoughts and to explore certain themes concerning power and knowledge that radically called into question my then profession of school counselling as well as my own practice.

One part of the thesis became my first book Counseling Youth: Foucault, Power, and the Ethics of Subjectivity (Besley, 2002). Jim wrote the Foreword. The other half, on school counselling in NZ was published in Access, Vol 21, 2, 2002 ( This chain of events owed a lot to Jim’s influence, as did my four books and many later articles on Foucault. Jim liked the topic because it was an application of Foucault with direct relevance to schools based on narrating the self; the moral constitution of youth using Foucault to talk about the self and identity, the politics of counselling, the ethics of professional self-constitution and Foucaultian approaches to narrative counselling in schools. It was also oddly self-referential and set up some interesting work around the power of narrative to shape and reshape our lives. Jim was also keenly aware of this relationship between personal identity, narrative and the professional self. His narratives were of schooling in Waitaki Boys High School, time in the navy, and in Bristol where he met Bridget and together they started a family (Peppy, Dominique and Marcus). Jim, the world scholar, engaged with a wide international network. As academic Dean responsible for the education faculty at the University of Auckland, he went much further than many other would in hosting dozens of academic friends he invited to Auckland.

Our relationship with Jim, Bridget and his family was much more than academic. We had some great social times with Jim, Bridget and family, and went to family weddings. Of course we knew about his long struggle with alcohol and tried to help both of them – it was hard for everyone and very sad when Bridget’s heart condition deteriorated and she died in 2002. Michael and I often met Jim socially in the company of many friends and colleagues around the world at AERA, PESGB and in Belgium for Paul Smeyers’ Research Circle. We met Lynda Stone and attended their marriage. Despite it being a release for Jim after so long with dementia, the last week was a hard time for Michael having been so close to Jim as a teacher, supervisor, colleague, research and writing partner and friend for over four decades.

At his funeral, the service flyer included a lovely photo of a very handsome, vibrant young man winning a swimming trophy and another one, not far from the end. When the photo tributes were screened to ‘My Way’ – it was not just Sinatra, but of also a mash up from the Sex Pistols! His coffin was plain pine wood with rope handles, like a boat – a nod to his maritime adventures. He’d even built Dom and Marcus an orange painted Optimist class dinghy that languished in the garage once they found surfing – much easier Dom said as we walked from the graveside.

So – yes – sad to see him go, but also a release. I loved his irreverent sense of humour and in particular I remember two expressions: one from the British war comedy series Dad’s Army – They don’t like it up them, Captain Mannering’; the other – ‘It’s all runs on the board’, a saying that seemed to apply to an awful lot of situations. He was an important person in my life, I really enjoyed his company – ‘It’s all runs on the board, Jim!’ Rest peacefully now!


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Full Citation Information:
Michael Peters, Colin Lankshear, Lynda Stone, Paul Smeyers, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Roger Dale, Graham Hingangaroa Smith, Nesta Devine, Robert Shaw, Nesta Devine, Bruce Haynes, Denis Philips, Kevin Harris, Marc Depaepe, David Aspin, Richard Smith, Hugh Lauder, Mark Olssen, Nicholas C. Burbules, Peter Roberts, Susan L Robertson, Ruth Irwin, Susanne Brighouse, & Tina Besley (2021) Collective obituary for James D. Marshall (1937–2021), Educational Philosophy and Theory, DOI: 10.1080/00131857.2021.1948399

Michael A. Peters

Michael A. Peters (FRSNZ)  is a New Zealander and is currently Distinguished Professor at Beijing Normal University and Emeritus Professor University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He was awarded a Personal Chair at the University of Auckland in 2000 and became a Research Professor at the University of Glasgow (2000-2006) before being appointed Excellence Hire Professor at Illinois and Professor of Education at the University of Waikato. He has Honorary Doctorates from Aalborg University, Denmark and SUNY, New York.

Michael was Editor-in-Chief of Educational Philosophy and Theory for 25 years and is currently Editor of Beijing International Review of Education (Brill). He is the founding editor of Policy Futures in Education (Sage); E-Learning & Digital Media (Sage); Knowledge Cultures (Addleton); Open Review of Educational Research (Taylor & Francis); Video Journal of Education and Pedagogy (Brill) and on the board of many other journals and book series.

Michael has written over 120 books and many journal articles on a wide range of topics and has worked with and mentored many younger scholars. He was given the Social Science and Humanities Leader in China Award in both 2022 and 2023 ( and is ranked 1st in China and 5th in Asia for Education and Educational Philosophy and Theory (AD Scientific Index, 2023). He is also ranked in the World’s Top 2% of Scientists by Stanford University. His recent works includes two books on the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic philosophy to be published in 2024.