Annabelle Sreberny suddenly passed away in UCH after a short illness. We were at school together in the 1960s and remained close throughout the next 62 years. She was a vividly present person, witty, politically engaged, radical, creative and perceptively astute. Her academic work focused on international communication and globalisation, and she has been acclaimed throughout the world for her socialist feminist approach to Iran. Yet when she spoke about Iranian culture, politics and history or, as a member of the Labour Party, of her support for Corbyn’s position, she was able to make complex thinking accessible to a wide audience.
She will be sorely missed as a forceful, inspirational and funny friend, colleague, mother, grandmother and political commentator.
Annabelle’s article in the current issue of Chartist is probably her last. She was passionate about a free Iran and was heavily involved in championing women’s struggles for independence. We had planned a podcast. She went to Iran in 1976 with her then partner. She closely followed and wrote about developments. A keen photographer, you can view her collection of images of the Iranian revolution at My Revolutionary Year, Iran 1978-9. In November 2022, she participated in the SOAS Director’s Lecture Series to discuss the ongoing protests in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini and the question of the future of the country.
Annabelle was a distinguished academic, author and editor, with many published books and articles to her name. She had lectured in the US as well as British universities. She was professor emerita of Global Media and Communication at SOAS and past president of the International Association for Media and Comparative Research. A committed socialist, she was the daughter of Jewish refugee parents (her mother coming on the Kindertransport). She had a deep understanding of antisemitism and the need to welcome refugees. A strong defender of Palestinian rights, she was an early member of Jewish Voice for Labour and spoke in 2018 at a rally in Parliament Square against distortions and wrong perceptions of antisemitism projected onto the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn. She submitted a personal testimony to the EHRC about the falsity of many claims made against the party.
Sadly, our plans for an ongoing commentary on Iran will not be fulfilled, but she leaves a rich legacy to build upon.