Erik Olin Wright — the thinker and the person.

by Harry on January 29, 2019

I told you that in the coming days you’d be able to learn a lot about Erik’s ideas, if you wanted. Well, there are now 4 pieces at Jacobin by Erik’s former students and friends that, between them, tell you a great deal about his ideas, but also about how he was in the world. Vivek Chibber explains why Erik was a Marxist and, perhaps, more orthodoxly so than some people think. David Calnitsky gives you a sense of what Erik was like as a teacher. Elizabeth Wrigley-Field talks about how he conducted himself professionally around others. This story of David’s illustrates both his goofiness and his understanding that successful teaching depends, partly, on the right kind of relationship:

I attended an undergraduate lecture of his once, and at the beginning of class he reported that there was a student in his office hours who expressed being intimidated by him. He responded in class by showing childhood pictures – pictures of him at seven in a cowboy hat, pictures with his siblings.

And, having read that, this comment of Elizabeth’s won’t surprise you:

At the annual sociology meeting last August, when I knew he was sick but did not believe he would have so little time left, a few of us former students were talking about him. I commented that Erik was always exactly himself.

Then I thought about it a bit more, and I revised my remark. A lot of people — especially a lot of men — are “themselves” in a way that forces the people around them to conform: we all are supposed to contour ourselves around however they are. But Erik was the opposite of that: he was always really himself in a way that invited all of us to be ourselves, too.

And Michael Burawoy writes a long, beautiful, essay, combining an exposition of Erik’s ideas—his intellectual contribution—with the story of his life, and showing how well the two fit together.

And Here is a neat autobiographical essay with which Erik prefaced one of his later books. And, for that matter, here’s an enormous list of pdfs of his published writing.

{ 2 comments }

1

Russell Arben Fox 01.30.19 at 12:18 pm

Excellent links, Harry; thank you.

2

JRLRC 02.01.19 at 5:36 pm

Thank you for sharing, Harry.
The NYT`s obituary is good enough…
I wrote something in my blog; it´s in Spanish, but maybe there are some LatinAmerican readers: http://jrlrc.tumblr.com/post/182276364197/erik-olin-wright

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