Professor Barry Morrison was an influential promoter of Asian Studies across Canada. Professor Morrison was instrumental in setting up of the Canadian Association of Asian Studies. In the Department for many years he taught a very popular course on Monsoon Asia. He was also the first to teach a course on Indian Literature in Translation. In his research work, Professor Morrison was deeply interested in transnational issues, particularly the formation and functioning of agrarian societies in Asia. Although formally trained as a historian of early South Asia, he conducted extensive research in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and contemporary Kerala.

– Harjot Oberoi

A tribute by Professor Peter Harnetty

The unexpected sad news of Barrie Morrison’s passing away was a shock.  I have known him since he joined the department in 1966, now nearly 50 years ago.  In those more expansive days we were given an appointment in Ancient Indian History and were fortunate to find a well qualified Canadian in this field.  He joined us from the Burke Museum in Seattle where he spent a year after receiving his Ph.D in South Asian Studies from the University of Chicago. In his first year, he joined me, Michael Ames (Anthropology, also from Chicago), and Joe Richardson (Religious Studies) in teaching the introductory course on South Asian Civilizations (Asia 115,which was based on the similar course at Chicago) and he continued to teach it with me and other colleagues until 1972. During these early years at UBC his dissertation was published in the prestigious monograph series of the Association for Asian Studies as “Political Centers and Cultural Regions in Early Bengal (1970).  A spin-off of this study – “Lalmai, A Cultura; Center of Early Bengal: An Archeological Report and Historical Analysis” – was published by the University of Washington Press in 1974.  He then changed course radically and switched his attention to contemporary South Asia, particularly Sri Lanka, and he published or edited a number of books dealing with social change in the village, the technology of rice cultivation, and the management of water resources in that part of the world.

Morrison was also active as a teacher, particularly of graduate students.  In fact, one of the current members of our department, Francesca Harlow, completed her M.A. under his direction before continuing to Toronto. He also became Director of the Institute of Asian Reseach in which capacity he served a five-year term. After his retirement in 1991 he continued as an Honorary Professor in the Institute for many years during which time he was most noted for a continuing seminar on Globalization which he directed.
Barrie was a devoted teacher, dedicated scholar, and good friend.  He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.


Barrie was also an active member of the Pender Island Conservancy Association. Click here for more information about his involvement.