Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Michael Löwy

Michael Löwy

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Michael Löwy'
Start a new discussion about 'Michael Löwy'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Michael Löwy is a French-Brazilian Marxist sociologist and philosopher. He is presently the emeritus research director in social sciences at the CNRS (French National Center of Scientific Research) and lectures at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS; Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

). Author of books on Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

, Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

, Liberation Theology
Liberation theology
Liberation theology is a Christian movement in political theology which interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ in terms of a liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions...

, György Lukács, Walter Benjamin
Walter Benjamin
Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin was a German-Jewish intellectual, who functioned variously as a literary critic, philosopher, sociologist, translator, radio broadcaster and essayist...

, Lucien Goldmann
Lucien Goldmann
Lucien Goldmann was a French philosopher and sociologist of Jewish-Romanian origin...

 and Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka was a culturally influential German-language author of short stories and novels. Contemporary critics and academics, including Vladimir Nabokov, regard Kafka as one of the best writers of the 20th century...

, he received the Silver Medal of the CNRS in 1994.

Academic career


A descendant from Jewish immigrants from Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, Löwy grew up in São Paulo, Brazil, becoming a committed socialist at age 16 (1954), when discovering the writings of Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg was a Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and activist of Polish Jewish descent who became a naturalized German citizen...

. He studied at the University of Sao Paulo
University of São Paulo
Universidade de São Paulo is a public university in the Brazilian state of São Paulo. It is the largest Brazilian university and one of the country's most prestigious...

, where he had as teachers Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Fernando Henrique Cardoso – also known by his initials FHC – was the 34th President of the Federative Republic of Brazil for two terms from January 1, 1995 to December 31, 2002. He is an accomplished sociologist, professor and politician...

, Florestan Fernandes
Florestan Fernandes
Florestan Fernandes was a Brazilian sociologist and politician. He was also elected federal deputy twice.- Life and career :...

 and Antonio Candido
Antônio Candido
Antonio Candido de Mello e Souza was born in Poços de Caldas, Minas Gerais, Brazil, on July 24, 1918. He is a writer, professor, and literary critic. He was the co-winner of the Prêmio Jabuti for essays in 1965.-Partial bibliography:...

); he got his license in Social Sciences
Social sciences
Social science is the field of study concerned with society. "Social science" is commonly used as an umbrella term to refer to a plurality of fields outside of the natural sciences usually exclusive of the administrative or managerial sciences...

 in 1960 and lectured sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 for a year at the University of São José do Rio Preto
São José do Rio Preto
São José do Rio Preto is a city and municipality in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. Is located at the north/northwest portion of the state, 450 km from the city of São Paulo and 700 km from Brasília....

 (State of Sao Paulo).

In 1961 he received a scholarship
Scholarship
A scholarship is an award of financial aid for a student to further education. Scholarships are awarded on various criteria usually reflecting the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award.-Types:...

 for a doctorate in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, which he did under the guidance of the well known Marxist philosopher and sociologist of culture Lucien Goldmann
Lucien Goldmann
Lucien Goldmann was a French philosopher and sociologist of Jewish-Romanian origin...

, who had a lasting influence on his views. He received his PhD
PHD
PHD may refer to:*Ph.D., a doctorate of philosophy*Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*PHD finger, a protein sequence*PHD Mountain Software, an outdoor clothing and equipment company*PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 in 1964, with a thesis on “Young Marx’s Theory of Revolution”, at the Sorbonne
Sorbonne
The Sorbonne is an edifice of the Latin Quarter, in Paris, France, which has been the historical house of the former University of Paris...

 University.

Soon afterwards Löwy went to Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 where his family had migrated. He learned Hebrew and became lecturer in political philosophy at the University of Tel Aviv, but his political views finished by creating problems, and the University refused to renew his contract in 1968. He was invited -in an act of solidarity- to lecture at the University of Manchester
University of Manchester
The University of Manchester is a public research university located in Manchester, United Kingdom. It is a "red brick" university and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive British universities and the N8 Group...

, where he became assistant to the sociologist and founder of the New Left
New Left
The New Left was a term used mainly in the United Kingdom and United States in reference to activists, educators, agitators and others in the 1960s and 1970s who sought to implement a broad range of reforms, in contrast to earlier leftist or Marxist movements that had taken a more vanguardist...

 Peter Worsley
Peter Worsley
Peter Maurice Worsley is a noted British sociologist and social anthropologist.He is a major figure in both anthropology and sociology, and is noted for introducing the term third world into English...

. (1968-1969).

In 1969 Löwy returned to Paris to work with Nicos Poulantzas
Nicos Poulantzas
Nicos Poulantzas was a Greek Marxist political sociologist. In the 1970s, Poulantzas was known, along with Louis Althusser, as a leading Structural Marxist and, while at first a Leninist, eventually became a proponent of eurocommunism. He is most well known for his theoretical work on the state...

 at the University of Paris VIII (Vincennes), and from that moment on established himself definitely in France. In the 1970s he worked, under the direction of Louis-Vincent Thomas
Louis-Vincent Thomas
Louis-Vincent Thomas was a French sociologist, anthropologist, ethnologist, and scholar whose specialty was Africa. He was the founder of thanatology. After having taught at Cheikh Anta Diop University, he became a sociology professor at Paris Descartes University.His writings deal with socialism,...

, on his Habilitation
Habilitation
Habilitation is the highest academic qualification a scholar can achieve by his or her own pursuit in several European and Asian countries. Earned after obtaining a research doctorate, such as a PhD, habilitation requires the candidate to write a professorial thesis based on independent...

 (doctorat d’état) on György Lukács  presented on 1975 at the University of Paris V (Sorbonne), and received with the honours. Löwy lectured sociology at the University of Paris VIII till 1978 when he was admitted as a researcher at the CNRS.

In 1981 Löwy began also to lecture at the prestigious École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales
École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales
The École des hautes études en sciences sociales is a leading French institution for research and higher education, a Grand Établissement. Its mission is research and research training in the social sciences, including the relationship these latter maintain with the natural and life sciences...

 in París; he has also been invited to lecture at Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

, University of California at Berkeley, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 and Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

, as well as other US Universities. In 1994 he received the Silver Medal of the CNRS.

Presently he is emeritus research director in social sciences at the CNRS and teaches at the EHESS. He is member of the editorial board of the Journals Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions, Actuel Marx
Actuel Marx
Actuel Marx is an international journal of Marxist studies, founded by Jacques Bidet and Jacques Texier, published by the Presses universitaires de France under the concourses of the Université de Paris Ouest - Nanterre La Défense and the CNRS....

, ContreTemps  and Écologie et Politique, as well as a fellow and regular lecturer at the International Institute for Research and Education
International Institute for Research and Education
The International Institute for Research and Education is a research and educational centre based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It conducts training and publishes research for and by progressive activists around the world....

 in Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

.

Scientific interests


Until 1985 most of Löwy’s works concerned the sociological and historical study of Marxist thought. This applies not only to his doctorate on Young Marx
Young Marx
Some theorists consider Karl Marx's thought to be divided into a "young" period and a "mature" one. There is disagreement to when Marx's thought began to mature, and the problem of the idea of a "Young Marx" is the problem of tracking the development of Marx's works and of its possible unity...

 and his Habilitation on György Lukács, but to most of the essays which he published, some of which were collected in books, as well as for two anthologies, on the National Question  (with Georges Haupt and Claudie Weill) and on Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

. Marxist epistemology also takes a central place in his work on sociology of knowledge
Sociology of knowledge
The Sociology of knowledge is the study of the relationship between human thought and the social context within which it arises, and of the effects prevailing ideas have on societies...

 from 1985.

The methodological orientation of his research was inspired by Lucien Goldmann
Lucien Goldmann
Lucien Goldmann was a French philosopher and sociologist of Jewish-Romanian origin...

’s writings -particularly The Hidden God, 1955)- whose approach, associating sociology and history, heterodox Marxism and German sociology, the internal study of cultural works and their connexion to the social structure
Social structure
Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. The usage of the term "social structure" has changed over time and may reflect the various levels of analysis...

, served him as starting point.

From the mid 1980’s Löwy will become interested in the Central European Jewish Culture, in Romantic anticapitalism and on the complex interrelations between religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 and politics
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

, particularly in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

. The concept of elective affinity, borrowed from Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

, but re-interpreted, becomes one of the key methodological tools of his research. His latest books concern Walter Benjamin
Walter Benjamin
Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin was a German-Jewish intellectual, who functioned variously as a literary critic, philosopher, sociologist, translator, radio broadcaster and essayist...

’s Theses on the Philosophy of History (1940), which Löwy considers as one of the most important documents of revolutionary thinking since Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach
Theses on Feuerbach
The "Theses on Feuerbach" are eleven short philosophical notes written by Karl Marx in 1845. They outline a critique of the ideas of Marx's fellow Young Hegelian philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach...

; and Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka was a culturally influential German-language author of short stories and novels. Contemporary critics and academics, including Vladimir Nabokov, regard Kafka as one of the best writers of the 20th century...

 as an anti-authoritarian author, with Anarchist sympathies, whose novels are inspired by a sort of «religion of liberty».

In spite of the diversity of its thematic contents, most of Michael Löwy writings, since his PhD on Marx till now, belong to a sociology of culture
Sociology of culture
The sociology of culture concerns culture—usually understood as sets of cognitive meanings—as it is manifested in society. For Georg Simmel, culture referred to "the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history".Cultural...

, of Marxist/historicist orientation. Inspired by Lukács and Lucien Goldmann, they also refer to the great tradition of German sociology, from Weber to Karl Mannheim
Karl Mannheim
Karl Mannheim , or Károly Mannheim in the original writing of his name, was a Jewish Hungarian-born sociologist, influential in the first half of the 20th century and one of the founding fathers of classical sociology and a founder of the sociology of knowledge.-Life:Mannheim studied in Budapest,...

. Their aim is to analyse, interpret and explain the relations between cultural phenomena -particularly religious and political– by situating them in precise social and historical contexts.

Commitments


Löwy is linked to the Revolutionary
Revolutionary
A revolutionary is a person who either actively participates in, or advocates revolution. Also, when used as an adjective, the term revolutionary refers to something that has a major, sudden impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor.-Definition:...

 Marxist current in France, and one of his last books, on Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

, was written in collaboration with Olivier Besancenot
Olivier Besancenot
Olivier Besancenot is a French far left political figure and trade unionist, and the founding main spokesperson of the New Anticapitalist Party from 2009 to 2011....

, presidential candidate of the LCR (French Revolutionary Communist League
Revolutionary Communist League
The Revolutionary Communist League can refer to one of several different parties:*Japan Revolutionary Communist League*Revolutionary Communist League *Revolutionary Communist League...

), linked to the Fourth International
Fourth International
The Fourth International is the communist international organisation consisting of followers of Leon Trotsky , with the declared dedicated goal of helping the working class bring about socialism...

. He is member of the association ATTAC, of the Copernicus Foundation
Copernicus Foundation
The Copernicus Foundation is a 501 not for profit organization based in the Jefferson Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. It was founded by Poles in Chicago in 1971 in order to raise funds towards raising a monument for the famous astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus to be set in front of the Adler...

 and of Espaces Marx. He has kept intense political contacts in Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

.

During several years he cooperated with the left currents of the PT, the Brazilian Workers Party, but during the last years his main contact has been with the MST, the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement, to whom he gave the money of the prize “Sergio Buarque de Hollanda” which he received in 2000 for his book The war of Gods.

Löwy took part since the beginning at the World Social Forum
World Social Forum
The World Social Forum is an annual meeting of civil society organizations, first held in Brazil, which offers a self-conscious effort to develop an alternative future through the championing of counter-hegemonic globalization...

, where he presented several papers, one of which in collaboration with the Brazilian Liberation Theologian Frei Betto
Frei Betto
Carlos Alberto Libânio Christo, O.P., better known as Frei Betto is a Brazilian writer, political activist, liberation theologist and Dominican friar. He was imprisoned for four years by the military dictatorship for smuggling people out of Brazil...

. More recently, Löwy joined the struggle for ecosocialism; co-author, with Joel Kovel
Joel Kovel
Joel Kovel is an American politician, academic, writer, and eco-socialist. A practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalyst until the mid-1980s, he has lectured in psychiatry, anthropology, political science and communication studies. He has published many books on his work in psychiatry,...

, of the International Ecosocialist Manifesto, he was also one of the organizers of the First Ecosocialist International Meeting in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

  (2007).

Interested since his youth by Surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

  -he had met the poet Benjamin Péret
Benjamin Péret
Benjamin Péret was a French poet, Parisian Dadaist and a founder and central member of the French Surrealist movement with his avid use of Surrealist automatism.-Biography:...

 during a visit in Paris in 1958- Löwy joined the Paris Surrealist Group, by invitation of Vincent Bounoure, its main organizer since 1969. Two of his books are devoted to Surrealism, in its utopian and revolutionary dimension. Next to his Surrealist activities in Paris, Löwy has strong personal links to Surrealists in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Sao Paulo
São Paulo
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the southern hemisphere and South America, and the world's seventh largest city by population. The metropolis is anchor to the São Paulo metropolitan area, ranked as the second-most populous metropolitan area in the Americas and among...

, Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

, Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, etc.

Publications

  • The Marxism of Che Guevara, New York, Monthly Review Press, 1973.

(Second Edition : Rowman and Littlefield, 2007.
Also in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Turkish, Persian & Thai).
  • “Marxism and Revolutionary Romanticism”. Telos 49 (Fall 1981). New York: Telos Press.

  • Georg Lukács: from Romanticism to Bolchevism, London, Verso, 1981.

(Also in French, Spanish, Italian, Swedish and Portuguese, Spanish).
  • The politics of combined and uneven development. The theory of permanent revolution, London, Verso Books, 1981.

(Translated into German and Korean, Séoul).
  • Redemption and Utopia. Libertarian Judaism in Central Europe, Stanford University Press, 1992.

(Also in French, Italian, Swedish, German, and Portuguese)
  • Marxism in Latin America from 1909 to the Present, New Jersey, Humanities Press, 1992.

(Also in Spanish and Portuguese).
  • On Changing the World. Essays in political philosophy: from Karl Marx to Walter Benjamin, New Jersey, Humanities Press, 1993. (Also in Japanese and Persian).

  • The war of gods. Religion and Politics in Latin America, London, Verso, 1996.

(Also in Spanish, Portuguese and French).
  • Fatherland or Mother Earth? Essays on the national question, London, Pluto Press, 1998.

(Also in Spanish and Portuguese).
  • Morning Star. Surrealism, Marxism, Anarchism, Situationism, Utopia, Austin, University of Texas Press, 2000.

(Also in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Greek).
  • Romanticism against the Tide of Modernity (with Robert Sayre), Durham, Duke University Press, 2001.

(Also in French, Greek and Portuguese).
  • Franz Kafka, rêveur insoumis, Paris, Editions Stock, 2004.

(Translated into Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and Greek).
  • Fire Alarm. Reading Walter Benjamin’s ‘On the Concept of History' , London, Verso, 2005.

(Also in French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Greek).
  • The Theory of Revolution in the Young Marx, Chicago, Haymarket, 2005.

(Also in French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Japanese).
  • Che Guevara, une braise qui brûle encore, with Olivier Besancenot
    Olivier Besancenot
    Olivier Besancenot is a French far left political figure and trade unionist, and the founding main spokesperson of the New Anticapitalist Party from 2009 to 2011....

    , Paris, Mille et une nuits, 2007.

(Published in English by Monthly Review
Monthly Review
Monthly Review is an independent Marxist journal published 11 times per year in New York City.-History:The publication was founded by Harvard University economics instructor Paul Sweezy, who became the first editor...

 Press. Translated into Greek? Soon to appear in Spanish and Portuguese).
  • Löwy published more than 200 articles or chapters in collective books. His works have been published in 28 languages : French, English, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Galician, Danish, Swedish, Greek, Turkish, Hungarian, Rumanian, Polish, Czech, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Yiddish, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Korean, Thaï, Japanese, Chinese, Tamil.

External links