(28 September 1930- 31 August 2019)
KCHR expresses deep condolences at the death of Immanuel Maurice Wallerstein. Wallerstein was a United States born sociologist, most well known for his formulation of ‘World-Systems Analysis.’ He has made immense contributions in the areas of the historical development of the modern world-system, the contemporary crisis of the capitalist world-economy and the structures of knowledge. Wallerstein held a number of key academic positions in premier institutions of learning and was Senior Research Scientist at the Yale University at the time of his death.
He began his academic career at the University of Columbia looking at McCarthyism as a phenomenon of the U.S. political culture. Soon he expanded his interest to the non- European world including India and more importantly Africa, closely following the anti-imperialist movements in the African region. Wallerstein began to articulate the perspective that would develop into ‘World Systems Analysis’ in the 1970’s. He has defined his perspective as based on two basic premises- First was taking the world-system as the unit of analysis; the second was the assertion that social science analysis should at once be historical and systemic. Wallerstein’s contribution to developing a geographical viewpoint in social sciences is remarkable. Scholars world over, including historians, maritime studies scholars, sociologists and economists have been influenced by or have critically engaged with Wallerstein’s world system analysis. The list includes scholars like Frank Broze, Etinne Balibar, Giovanni Arrighi, Neil Brenner, Michael Pearson and Amiya Kumar Bagchi
Deeply concerned with anti-systemic movements, Wallerstein predicted the future demise of the capitalist world system. In the more recent years Wallerstein focused his attention on understanding the cleavages in the modern world system. He identified them as primarily five- race, nation, class, ethnicity, and gender. Well known for his regular commentaries on the contemporary political scenario, Wallerstein published what he considered his final commentary titled ‘This is the end; this is the beginning’ on his website on July 1 2019. He wrote
So, the world might go down further by-paths. Or it may not. I have indicated in the past that I thought the crucial struggle was a class struggle, using class in a very broadly defined sense. What those who will be alive in the future can do is to struggle with themselves so this change may be a real one. I still think that and therefore I think there is a 50-50 chance that we’ll make it to transformatory change, but only 50-50.