Dwijen Rangnekar, 1965-2015

A prominent academic activist has died

November 19, 2015
Obituary: Dwijen Rangnekar, 1965-2015

Dwijen Rangnekar was born on 17 April 1965 in Delhi and studied economics at the University of Delhi (1987), followed by a postgraduate diploma in journalism at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (1990) and an MA in economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University (1991).

He then moved to the UK for a PhD in economics at Kingston University, where his thesis marked the start of his research into the economic, social, legal and political intersections of intellectual property regimes, food and agriculture.

After obtaining his doctorate in 2000, Professor Rangnekar was appointed senior research fellow at University College London’s School of Public Policy. In 2003, he took up a position at the University of Warwick as senior research fellow in international economic law.

This led in 2005 to a competitive Research Councils UK tenure-track fellowship held jointly between Warwick's Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR) and Warwick Law School and then a promotion to associate professor of law in 2010.

Very much an activist as well as an academic, Professor Rangnekar was a firm believer in the power of scholarship to effect social and political change. He challenged conventional understandings of intellectual property with a view to using such rights to improve the development prospects and food security of local communities in the global South.

Sharifah Sekalala, research fellow in law at Warwick, remembers him as someone “who did not only write and philosophise about injustice but one whose life reflected his scholarship”. He was also an active member of the University and College Union, fighting for colleagues as a departmental representative for many years.

Over the last decade of his life, Professor Rangnekar spent much of his time on research and writing devoted to showing how geographical indications could be utilised by local producers to protect the cultural identity of geographically specific food products, notably including the feni liquor made from cashew nuts and coconut in Goa, India.

In the process, he single-handedly elevated the status of this unusual liquor to legendary prominence among his friends and colleagues, once accompanying a research seminar on his fieldwork with a feni cocktail-tasting session.

Celine Tan, associate professor of law at Warwick, remembers Professor Rangnekar as “a great cook and lover of art and music, always enlightening his audience with titbits of information about the provenance of a spice, herb or musical origins of a track, correcting and fine-tuning culinary methods and adorning his home and office with collections of textiles, sculptures and souvenirs from India and all over the world”.

Professor Rangnekar died of oesophageal cancer on 30 October.


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