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June 07, 1983 - Image 7

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1983-06-07

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, June 7, 1983- Page 7
Prof values rustic li est le

John Broomfield leans back in his
chair and sips steaming coffee from a
Styrofoam cup. Dressed in Levi's and a
casual shirt the University history
professor has the air of a rustic out-
Although he has championed con-
troversial issues on campus such as
divestment and 'research policy
guidelines, Broomfield is a man who en-
joys a simple lifestyle.
BORN, IN New Zealand in 1935,
Broomfield has a passion for rural
living. He has abandoned modern con-
veniences which many Americans con-
sider necessities.
Broomfield does not own a television
or a car; he relies on Ann Arbor buses
to get to his office at the University

'I always feel more alive in India than
anywhere else in the world. You can't take
anything for granted...because (India is) so
totally different.'
- John Broomfield
University history professor
"I sort of grew up with wholistic a matter of taking something from the
views without knowing it," said Broom- family garden, he said, adding that he
field who speaks with a thick New still depends on his own garden for food.
Zealand accent. Cultural contrasts fascinate. Broom-
IN NEW ZEALAND, eating was just field and his blue eyes light up when he

describes the seven years he spent in
"This coffee cup for example, would
not be thrown away in India, it would be
fashioned into something else," Broom-
field said, his small frame surrounded
by cluttered shelves filled with history
"I ALWAYS feel more alive in India
than anywhere else in the world. You
can't take anything for gran-
ted...because (India is) culturally, so
totally different.
The simple lifestyle in India mirrors
Broomfield's habits at home. Studying
American andIndian cultures provides
him with some of the material for his
comparative history class which he has
taught for 20 years at the University.
India is a land of the unexpected ac-
cording to Broomfield. "You buy candy
in South Asia and it is wrapped in an old
exam paper," he said.
"BLUEBOOKS are taken and
fashioned into little bags which you buy
candy and peanuts in. You can stand
there and read somene's college
The main difference between the
United States and India is that
Americans consider time more impor-
tant than people.
"People in India will literally, if they
know I'm coming, sometimes stay
away from work just to spend time with
me." he explained. This is a problem
when Broomfield's Indian friends visit
the United States because they expect
him to take off work and entertain
HIS STUDIES in India have taught
Broomfield to be open to new ideas, a
lesson he tries to pass on to students. "I
teach to try and change, to try and get
students to at least consider my view of
the world. If I'm going to have an im-
pact on the way students think about
their lives, I'm not going to do much of
it by simply introducing a handful of
students to India," he said.
When Broomfield came to the
University after earning his doctorate
in history at the Australian National
University, most students had conser-
vative attitudes. Broomfield, however,
was an outspoken protestor of the Viet-
nam war.
"At Michigan, the faculty was either
ahead of the students or were partners
with the students opposing the war. At
most universities the students were
ahead of the faculty protesting the
Vietnam war," said Broomfield.
There are fewer radical students on
campus today which Broomfield
blames on the wave of "new conser-
vatism." Conservatives speak out on
issues they wouldn't have dreamed of
talking about in the '60s, such as
backing draft registration, Broomfield
said, a trend which embattled radical
"There's a group of radical or left-
radical students who understand the
complexity of making a political im-
pact in a way that few students or
faculty did in the late '60s," Broomfield
said. But there is no longer the sense of
romanticism which was an important
part of the anti-war movement.
Profile appears every Thur-

University History Prof. John Broomfield has given up typical American conveniences such as owning a television and
a car. Broomfield takes the bus to work every day.

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