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Self, Peter John Otter (1919–1999)

by Patrick Troy

Our dearly loved, highly regarded colleague Peter Self died on 29 March in Canberra after a short illness.

It is hard to contemplate a future without Peter Self. For myself, I have found him a lodestar since I bought his first book, Cities in Flood, in 1960.

His writing and teaching has had great influence on literally thousands of students, planners, administrators and politicians over the past 55 years.

He made his major contributions on public administration and urban planning in Britain and Australia but his reputation was carried throughout Africa, Asia and the Americas in the respect felt for him by his students at the London School of Economics.

Peter made major contributions to social theory and criticism, and to the critique of ideologies which underpinned much contemporary social and economic policy. He subjected many fashions in contemporary economics to sustained criticism leading the debate over the preoccupations with market-based "solutions" to social issues.

He was a man of high integrity, commitment and courage. He was, in every sense, an intellectual in the public domain, contributing to the pursuit of excellence in government and the urban professions, and engaging fully and energetically on a wide range of public issues. He completed his eighth book Rolling Back the Market only six weeks ago.

Peter had long been active in the British Town And Country Planning Association serving as Chairman of its Executive from 1961-69 and Chairman of its Council from 1979-83. From 1978 he served as a Member of Council of the Royal Institute of Public Administration. He was made an Honorary Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute in 1978 and elected Fellow of the Royal Australian Planning Institute in 1997.

The Urban and Environmental Program will hold a memorial meeting in his honour on a date to be announced.

Original publication

Citation details

Patrick Troy, 'Self, Peter John Otter (1919–1999)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/self-peter-john-otter-900/text901, accessed 24 November 2017.

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