14 March 2022

In Memoriam: Dr Azeezat Johnson

Dr Azeezat Johnson
Dr Azeezat Johnson. Photo: Twitter

We are deeply saddened by the death of Dr Azeezat Johnson, who completed her PhD with us on Black Muslim women’s clothing practices in 2017.  Azeezat was motivated by a fierce commitment to social justice and an ethic of care.  She was gifted with an extraordinary combination of intellect, determination and charisma with which she confronted the whiteness of the academy and challenged us to become a more hospitable place for Black and other global majority scholars.

While at Sheffield Geography she co-founded the Critical Race and Ethnicity Network as a space of mutual support, inquiry and activism for Black scholars across Sheffield University and other institutions.  A legacy of one of CREN’s many gatherings is the landmark book The Fire Now: anti-racist scholarship in times of explicit racial violence Azeezat co-edited with Remi Joseph-Salisbury and fellow Sheffield Geography alum Beth Kamunge.  Another lasting contribution to the department was her 2017 internal report, ‘How diverse is the Geography curriculum?’, whose findings and recommendations strongly influenced our equality, diversity and inclusion policy and our ongoing efforts todecolonise our curriculum and classroom practice.

Azeezat went on to a lectureship at the School of Geography at Queen Mary–University of London.  There she was awarded an Economic and Social Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2018 and a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship in 2019 in recognition of her exceptional research.

We offer our deepest condolences to her beloved family and friends, and we hope that they find some comfort in how deeply she touched so many lives.  We will share further plans for celebrating her life in due course.