Academic journal article International Journal of Comparative Sociology

Remembering Andre Gunder Frank

Academic journal article International Journal of Comparative Sociology

Remembering Andre Gunder Frank

Article excerpt

Andre Gunder Frank was born in 1929 and died in 2005. He was one of the major figures of world anti-Establishment thought in the 20th century, and his writings were a great influence on very many people, certainly on me. He started intellectual life as an economist, and indeed one trained in the heartland of neoclassical economics, the University of Chicago. But he soon turned into one of the severest critics of his mentors and those whose views they propagated. He spent his early research years in Latin America, particularly in Brazil and Chile. And there, he became one of the leaders of the dependistas. The three essential features of his position were (1) a rejection of neoclassical economics as both intellectually irrelevant and generative of false policy prescriptions for the countries of the South; (2) a commitment to radical political action as well as radical analyses; (3) a rejection of the Marxism of the orthodox Communist parties for purveying inadequate and misleading modes of analysis and praxis.

Gunder Frank launched the memorable slogan of 'the development of underdevelopment' as the dictum to encapsulate the program of the dependistas. It suggested that the situation in which Third World countries found themselves today was not the result of some 'traditional' characteristics they had inherited but was rather the consequence of their incorporation as dominated and therefore exploited sectors in the modern world-system. It was in the early 1970s that I met him and discovered how much overlap there was in our views. In the years that followed, he, I, Samir Amin, and Giovanni Arrighi were in rather constant contact, and we then collaborated in two collective works: The Dynamics of Global Crisis (1982) and Transforming the Revolution: Social Movements" and the World-System (1990). …

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