Press Release, 2.10.2012

Tribute to Eric Hobsbawm

The DTF expresses its grief at the passing of Eric Hobsbawm and joins with others worldwide in paying tribute to this towering historian and intellectual whose work left an indelible stamp on generations of readers both inside and outside the university system.

Eric Hobsbawm was one of those rare breed of intellectuals whose scholarship spanned the multiple facets of collective human existence, from production and power relations to culture and identity and understood history as a social science in its broadest sense. He was the quintessential Marxist historian whose mastery over facts and sources not even the worst critics of Marxism would question. He was a historian of the 20th century, for which he had complete command over the events of the previous century, so as to tweak out causal relationships and expound the logic of history as it unfolded. He remains the foremost historian of the events, processes and historical structures that have shaped the contemporary world, such as industrialisation, capitalism and imperialism. His wonderful books are essential reading not only for students of history but of all other disciplines in the social sciences and humanities that seek to understand society, politics and culture. Industry and Empire and the Age quartet — The Age of Revolution, The Age of Capital, The Age of Empire and The Age of Extremes — will continue to inspire students and general readers for generations to come.

As someone who emphasised unrelentingly on the need to think of a world beyond capitalism with its market fundamentalism and focused on the role of organised movements in creating, expanding and protecting the democratic rights that we take for granted today, he remains a beacon of light, when clouds of authoritarianism – pursuing ever greater marketisation – darken the horizon in our everyday worklife.

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