The death of a friend of Eritrea

Roy Pateman

Professor Roy Pateman, who wrote the seminal book: “Even the stones are burning”, published by The Red Sea Press in 1990, has died. A former chair of the Eritrean Studies Association, he will be long remembered by his many friends.

He also co-authored “Blood, Land, and Sex: Legal and Political Pluralism in Eritrea” with Lyda Favali.

Roy Pateman was born August 15, 1935, in Leicester, England; son of Harry (a printer) and Elsie (a seamstress; maiden name, Pearson) Pateman; married Carole Bennett, February 27, 1960.

Education: University of Nottingham, B.Sc., 1958; University of Reading, M.Phil., 1971. Politics: Democratic Socialist. Religion: Zen Buddhist. Hobbies and other interests: Opera, fitness, wine, books.

CAREER: Economics teacher at schools in Oxfordshire, England, 1961-69; National Farmers’ Union, London, England, lobbyist and economist, 1969-72; University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, tutor in politics, 1972-89; University of CaliforniaLos Angeles, professor of politics, 1990-2002; retired. Also taught at Princeton University. Workers’ Educational Association, Sydney, president, 1980-82; Eritrean Relief Association, chair, 1980-89. Military service: British Army Intelligence Corps, 1958-61. British Army Reserve, 1961-64.

MEMBER: Eritrean Studies Association (chair, 1998-2000)

“My first book, Eritrea: Even the Stones Are Burning, came about because of my active involvement in liberation politics and as chair of a major Australian organization, the Eritrean Relief Association, in the 1980s. I visited Eritrea several times during its thirty-year struggle for independence, was enormously impressed by the people and country, and looked around for an adequate account of why the Eritreans had fought so long and how they seemed to be winning in spite of considerable odds against them. I didn’t find one, so I set about writing articles that were eventually edited rigorously and put into a book. Here I am reminded of one of my first loves as a writer, who said when he wanted to read a book, he wrote one. The first edition of my book was launched providentially just as Eritrea had finally beaten the Ethiopians, and the second edition came out after five years after it became a sovereign state. Both editions have almost sold out, so I am writing two further chapters to go into a third edition. Political conditions no longer look as promising in Eritrea, so I expect to be working on this book for the rest of my life!”

“The book Blood, Land, and Sex: Legal and Political Pluralism in Eritrea was written with my intimate friend and companion, the Italian lawyer Lyda Favali. It started life when she translated one of my articles so eloquently that I wanted the cooperation to continue. In the course of her doctoral research, she had collected a large number of Italian documents dealing with state, traditional, and religious law in the colony of Eritrea in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These documents had been gathering dust for years and were virtually unknown to the non-Italian-reading scholar. We translated them, and during some extended field work found that traditional and religious laws were very much alive in Eritrea. We are very excited to have breathed new life into a very important area and hope it will appeal to lawyers, historians, anthropologists, and political scientists, among other readers.”

Here is a tribute to him.


  1. Even the stones are burning was a stark expression of the truth in Eritrea. He left us rich historical legasy. Rest In Peace.

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