Open Forum on Jeremy Adelman’s biography of Albert Hirschman



Curated by Sean Mannion, Duke University
The career of Albert Hirschman was a brilliant and sustained act of what he liked to call “trespassing.” Trained as an economist, Hirschman refused to respect disciplinary boundaries and specialization, his oeuvre breathtakingly moving from the seventeenth-century origins of capitalism (1977’s The Passions and the Interests) and the nature of organizational and political dissent (1970’s Exit, Voice, and Loyalty) to his two-hundred-year history of conservative narrative form (1991’s The Rhetoric of Reaction). Yet an important historical ground for this impressive array of interests and research was Latin America, where Hirschman worked as a World Bank consultant in Colombia and cultivated his many seminal contributions to development economics.

Jeremy Adelman’s monumental biography Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman thus provides an opportunity to assess the importance of this historical ground for Hirschman’s work. We invite you to participate in this forum aimed at reflecting upon not only the ways in which Latin America influenced the development of Hirschman’s thought, but also how Hirschman’s ideas might invigorate the study of Latin American history. Peter Coclanis offers an extended review of Adelman’s books and of all the insights that make Hirschman an important figure for the study of Latin America. Likewise, Jeremy Adelman, Paul Gootenberg, Joseph Love, Richard Salvucci, and David Sartorius offer their reflections on Hirschman’s influence on their own work and on the ways in which other Latin American historians can draw on Hirschman as well.

We invite all readers to provide their own reflections on Hirschman, either in response to the essays presented here or in response to Adelman’s book.  The senior editors of the Hispanic American Historical Review hope to create a rigorous interdisciplinary dialogue and debate through this open forum.

Peter Coclanis’s review of Worldly Philosopher, by Jeremy Adelman

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