Immanuel Wallerstein

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Immanuel Wallerstein "is the former President of the International Sociological Association (1994-1998), and chair of the international Gulbenkian Commission on the Restructuring of the Social Sciences (1993-1995). He writes in three domains of world-systems analysis: the historical development of the modern world-system; the contemporary crisis of the capitalist world-economy; the structures of knowledge. Books in each of these domains include respectively The Modern World-System (3 vols.); Utopistics, or Historical Choices for the Twenty-first Century; and Unthinking Social Science: The Limits of Nineteenth-Century Paradigms...

"I served in the U.S. Army from 1951-53, and when I returned to Columbia, I decided to write my M.A. thesis on McCarthyism as a phenomenon of U.S. political culture. I drew on Wright Mills’s distinction in New Men of Labor between sophisticated conservatives and the practical right, in order to make the case that McCarthyism was a program of the practical right, a program that was only marginally concerned with Communists but one rather that was directed primarily against the sophisticated conservatives. It was a well-received essay, widely cited at the time. It confirmed my sense that I should consider myself, in the language of the 1950s, a “political sociologist.”

"I decided nonetheless not to make U.S. politics my prime arena of intellectual concern. I had, even since my high school years, a keen interest in the non-European world. I followed events in modern India in particular, and had read much of Gandhi and Nehru. In 1951, I was involved in an international youth congress, and there met many delegates from Africa, most of whom were older than I and already held important positions in their countries’ political arenas. In 1952, another youth congress was held in Dakar, Senegal. Suddenly, at this early point, I found myself amidst the turmoil of what would soon be the independence movements (in this case of French West Africa).

"I decided to make Africa the focus of my intellectual concerns, and of my solidarity efforts. Because I commanded French, and because I had these early contacts, I became one of the few scholars who studied Africa across the European linguistic barriers. In 1955, I obtained a Ford Foundation African Fellowship, to study about Africa and to write a dissertation that would compare the Gold Coast (Ghana) and the Ivory Coast in terms of the role voluntary associations played in the rise of the nationalist movements in the two countries. I had now become an Africa scholar, an intellectual role I would continue to play for two decades. I wrote many books and articles on African themes and issues, and in 1973 became president of the (U.S.) African Studies Association." [1]

In 1956-57 he lived in Ghana and the Ivory Coast on a Ford Foundation Fellowship. [2]

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Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University, accessed March 25, 2009.
  2. Immanuel Wallerstein, Africa: The Politics of Independence (Vintage Books, 1961) - last page.
  3. Directors, Concerned Africa Scholars, accessed March 17, 2009.
  4. Organization and Awards, Socíologos Sin Fronteras, accessed April 17, 2008.
  5. Editorial Board, New Political Science, accessed May 28, 2008.
  6. Editorial Board, Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict, and World Order, accessed September 28, 2009.