The Columbia Social Essayists


  • Albert Bergesen University of Arizona



Wallerstein came of age intellectually at Columbia University, where he was an undergraduate, graduate student and faculty member for a quarter of a century (1947-1971). While we often think of his work on African politics and his concern with third world development as precur-sors to world-system theory, a large part of his intellectual biography was shaped by those Columbia years. They mark the high point of a triple hegemony of university, city, and nation, as at this time Columbia was the leading university in the leading city of the hegemonic nation. It was a time before the 1960s when the New Left and Berkeley would challenge the centrality of New York and Columbia as undisputed centers of American social thought and it was before what would be called the policy intellectuals would emerge in Washington DC in the 1970s/80s. It was also a time before the great in?ux of federal money in the 1960s which spurred social research and lifted other universities to prominence. It was a time of what I will call The Columbia Social Essayists, referring to scholar/intellectuals such as C. Wright Mills, Daniel Bell, Lionel Trilling, Richard Hofstadter and Meyer Schapiro.




How to Cite

Bergesen, A. (2000). The Columbia Social Essayists. Journal of World-Systems Research, 6(2), 198–213.



Festschrift for Wallerstein