Having gotten my BA in mathematics in 1961 (from Brandeis), I made my way by loops and by-ways to a doctorate in sociology at UC exactly thirty years later. In between I lived in India for seven years, publishing two books, Bullock Carts and Motor Bikes: Ancient India on a New Road in 1972, and On a Tree of Trouble: Tribes of India in Crisis in 1974.
Of Berkeley I will not forget the frantic first year, with drinks and cigarettes in North Beach bars and late-nights walks from Bart station on Shattuck to Grizzly Peak (home of the friendly family that provided me with a roof in the first month). I'd rather forget the following years of single-minded dissertation work, which were spent in a Spruce Street cloister (with a view).
Graduate studies at Berkeley shaped my fundamental interest in understanding the relation between knowledge and power in modern societies. My faculty mentors and fellow students provided me with intellectual tools to bring social theory to bear on social issues that mattered, and they encouraged me to develop an 'engaged' sociology. The faculty members with whom I worked also had no hesitations about providing me the space to explore areas and empirical topics that sometimes were unfamiliar to them.
I was drawn to Berkeley because of its tradition of sociological reflection on important public issues. After graduating from Berkeley in 1992, I had a variety of interesting opportunities that broadened my intellectual horizons. Chief among these were a year as a post-doc at the Center for European Studies at Harvard; a stint as a program officer in the Jennings Randolph Program for International Peace at the United States Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C.; and a year-long fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.
Colin Samson is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex in England. He has been working with the Innu peoples of the Labrador-Quebec peninsula in Canada since 1994. His associations with them led to co-authoring the widely-cited human rights report Canada's Tibet: the killing of the Innu which won the Italian Pio Manzo peace prize in 2000. His book A Way of Life that Does Not Exist: Canada and the Extinguishment of the Innu (Verso Press) won the Pierre Savard Award given by the International Council for Canadian Studies in 2006.