Passings: David Wurfel best known for definitive works on Philippine politics

The following was submitted by the York Centre for Asian Research on the passing of Senior Research Associate David Wurfel.

DavidWurfel2It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. David Wurfel on Nov. 12, 2012. David was Professor Emeritus at the University of Windsor and a long-time senior research associate at the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR).

David Wurfel

David received his PhD from Cornell and then taught political science at the International Christian University, Tokyo (1959-1962), the University of Missouri (1962-1968) and the University of Windsor (1968-1993). He was the founding chair of the Canadian Council for Southeast Asian Studies (1973-1975) and of the Canadian Asian Studies Association (1980-1981). He was best known for his definitive works on Philippine politics, including the book Filipino Politics: Development and Decay (Cornell University Press, 1988), land reform, labour, foreign policy and aid, but he also published widely on Vietnam, East Timor, Japan and regional political economy.

For David, politics was never just an intellectual pursuit and he was an engaged scholar and public intellectual from the start.  He was involved in early anti-nuclear and anti-war movements in the 1960s and ran with the NDP for a federal parliamentary seat in 1980. After retiring to Toronto, he became deeply involved in issues of homelessness in the city and international movements for social justice and democracy.

From 2006, David funded the Wurfel Award at YCAR, which supported student research on the Philippines. He wanted to contribute to the emergence of a new generation of Filipino leaders in Canada, knowledgeable about the Philippines’ history, culture and politics. His generosity supported research by masters students on: the political ecology of coastal resources in the Western Visayas; the role of the Catholic Church in Philippine public life; the emergence of Filipino-Canadian second generation identities; and, the work of religiously-based philanthropy organizations in Philippine development.

David was a committed and principled scholar and activist, and a much-respected member of the YCAR community. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to his wife Kathy and the rest of his family. A memorial service was held in December 2012 in Seattle.

For further information about David’s career and the full text of his writings from 1954 to 2004, visit the David Wurfel website.