It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our colleague, Dr Azeezat Johnson, on Monday 7th March 2022. Azeezat was an inspirational colleague during her five years in the School of Geography at Queen Mary and we are devastated by her loss.
Azeezat joined the School as a lecturer in September 2017 after completing her PhD on the clothing practices of Black Muslim women at the University of Sheffield. Her outstanding research was recognized by the award of an Economic and Social Research Council-LISS DTP Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2018 and a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship in 2019, both based at the School.
Azeezat’s research on Black geographies, home, intersectionality, care, gender and embodiment has had a profound impact within and beyond Geography. Her work will continue to challenge the deep-rooted and enduring white structures of power in academia, including through her landmark co-edited book The Fire Now: anti-racist scholarship in times of explicit racial violence (with Remi Joseph-Salisbury and Beth Kamunge, Zed Books, 2018) and her widely read paper 'Throwing our bodies against the white background of academia' (Area, 2019).
Azeezat’s focus during her Leverhulme Fellowship was on home-making for Black women in contemporary Britain. Her work over the past year has reflected the importance of writing about home through tending to her own embodied geographies. Azeezat was working on a book of essays to submit to the RGS-IBG Wiley Book Series on care, embodied geographies and home-making. Azeezat was also collaborating with Wasi Daniju to make race visible in the period rooms and other spaces at the Museum of the Home through a range of creative interventions.
Azeezat developed deep and sustaining collaborations throughout her career, including as founder of the Geographies of Embodiment (GEM) Research Collective, ‘a community of public scholars demanding and embodying liberation.’ Her commitment to collective ways of working and to creative forms of engagement and writing will continue to inspire her colleagues and collaborators. Azeezat was also a gifted teacher and supportive mentor to many of our students, and worked particularly closely with students studying race and social justice.
Azeezat was an inspirational scholar, gifted public speaker and a wonderful colleague. She was also a much loved daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt and friend. We will miss her but will continue to celebrate her life and work. Further information will be available in due course about how the School plans to pay tribute to Azeezat.