obituary

Farewell to Immanuel Wallerstein

Immanuel_Wallerstein.2008We were saddened to learn of the recent death of esteemed sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein. We published his book World-Systems Analysis in 2004.

Wallerstein taught at Columbia University, Binghamton University (where he led the Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems and Civilization), and finally at Yale University, where he was a Senior Research Scholar until his death on August 31.

In World-Systems Analysis, Immanuel Wallerstein provided a concise and accessible introduction to the comprehensive approach that he pioneered forty years ago to understanding the history and development of the modern world. Since Wallerstein first developed world-systems analysis, it has become a widely utilized methodology within the historical social sciences and a common point of 978-0-8223-3442-2_prreference in discussions of globalization. Wallerstein explains the defining characteristics of world-systems analysis: its emphasis on world-systems rather than nation-states, on the need to consider historical processes as they unfold over long periods of time, and on combining within a single analytical framework bodies of knowledge usually viewed as distinct from one another—such as history, political science, economics, and sociology. He describes the world-system as a social reality comprised of interconnected nations, firms, households, classes, and identity groups of all kinds.

In 2011, we published a collection of essays about Wallerstein’s important work, Immanuel Wallerstein and the Problem of the World, edited by David Palumbo-Liu, Nirvana Tanoukhi,  and Bruce Robbins. Scholars of comparative literature, gender, geography, history, law, race, and sociology all consider what thinking on the world scale might mean for particular disciplinary practices, knowledge formations, and objects of study. The collection shows the impact of Wallerstein’s ideas throughout academe.

In his cover endorsement for World-Systems Analysis, Kai Erickson of Yale University said, “Immanuel Wallerstein’s mind can reach as far and encompass as much as anyone’s in our time.” He will be greatly missed.