In Memoriam: Professor Rod Kedward (1937-2023)

At the ASMCF, we were all deeply saddened to learn of the death on 29 April of Professor Rod Kedward. He had been a friend and supporter of the Association since its early days and was a member of the International Advisory Board of the journal Modern & Contemporary France.

Rod Kedward was an internationally recognized expert on the history of Resistance in Occupied France during World War II. In his many scrupulous and original publications, his special contribution was a history based on the lives of ordinary people: bringing together oral history – through over 100 interviews with survivors of the period – and written accounts, and stressing the variety and complexity of French people’s wartime experience. His work was rewarded in France by the granting of the rank of Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques, by the award of the Prix Philippe Viannay, and, importantly, by the respect and admiration of French historians.

Having arrived at the University of Sussex in its earliest days in 1962, Rod Kedward spent his entire career there, contributing greatly to its rayonnement in the field of French Studies. Several generations of undergraduates and postgraduates owe a great debt to him for his warm encouragement and constant help and availability. Hanna Diamond, Simon Kitson and Martin Evans edited a festschrift for him, which gives details of his life and career (Vichy, Resistance and Liberation, Berg, 2005).

Rod Kedward’s last book was a collection of his valedictory ideas, The French Resistance and its Legacy (Bloomsbury, 2022). He donated his significant oral history collection to the wide-ranging Archive of Resistance Testimony, which he helped to found at Sussex after his retirement. With his much-valued family, especially his wife Carol, herself a senior academic in Social Work, he was immensely hospitable. Always open to change, and devoted to the ideas of justice and equality, Rod will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him.

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