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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Remembering Mark D. Alleyne, brilliant communications scholar and fellow journalist

Dr. Mark DaCosta Alleyne, brilliant communications scholar, author, journalist and broadcaster, and former features editor of The Bajan magazine died suddenly on Wednesday, May 20th, in Guatemala City. He was 47.

Mark, associate professor of communications at Georgia State University, died from cardiac arrest at a hospital in Guatemala City, where he had been admitted after apparently developing pneumonia, his long-time friend and former colleague, Reudon Eversley, said. His death was also reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday, May 21st. Mark was overseeing six Georgia State students on a Spanish-language immersion course in Guatemala when he took ill.

He developed pneumonia, was admitted to ICU, then moved to a regular ward on Tuesday May 19th and appeared to be on the mend but went into cardiac arrest during the night and died on Wednesday morning around 9, Reudon said. Funeral services are planned for Atlanta and a memorial service in Barbados.

He was Features Editor of The Bajan magazine, his first appointment after graduating magna cum laude with a BA from Howard University. While a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he read for both his master's and doctorate degrees, he was an Advocate columnist and a freelance broadcaster for BBC World Service Topical Tapes and Caribbean Service. He was a founding member and first president of the Barbados Association of Journalists.

Mark was one of the most accomplished communications scholars to emerge from the developing world but his first-rate mind was no less significant than his warm and engaging personality.

He was at Georgia State since 2005. Prior to that, he was at UCLA, where he was Associate Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies. He first taught at Hampshire College, then American University, Loyola University-Chicago (where he was director of the National Center for Freedom of Information Studies) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has also been a Research Fellow at Columbia University's Freedom Forum Media Studies Centre.

His scholarship included significant contributions to post-colonial studies on international communication, international relations, international development and race. He was the author of three books: "Global Lies? Propaganda, the U.N. & World Order" (Palgrave 2003), "News Revolution: Political and Economic Decisions About Global Information" (St. Martin’s Press 1997), and a seminal work, "International Power and International Communication" (St. Antony’s/Macmillan 1995). He was working on a third, tentatively titled "Propaganda Against Hate". His scholarship was also published in Media Development, the Journal of Communication, the Journal of Peace Research, Journalism Quarterly, SAIS Review, among others.

Much of his work was on black studies, the ideology of race, the political economy of international communications, international relations and press freedom. In response to theories of developing countries being overrun by imperialist cultures through media, he was among the first scholars to note how the Empire had begun to strike back in the face of overwhelming media imports by developing their own channels and content, indicating how complex such cultural interactions between North and South really are.

He surely would have been an important, independent voice in Barbados's efforts in Freedom of Information legislation, and contributed greatly to my early interest in the subject back in the early 1990s. He was a generous and thoughtful person, always ready, willing and certainly more than able to lend his fine mind to subjects of mutual interest and study. I believed he loved this country, and lived up to the highest ideals of being Barbadian by doing credit to his nation wherever he went and whatever he did.

We can take some comfort, small though it may be, that he died doing what he loved the most, engaging other minds in the pursuit of knowledge, understanding and achievement. We should be so fortunate to pack into our own lives the accomplishment, hard work, diligence and thought that was his short life.

May he rest in peace.