Albert O. Hirschman (1915-2012)

Dec 21, 2012

Albert O. Hirschman was one of the giants of international social science. His contributions to development economics, international political economy and political philosophy were enormous. Equally impressive, in a sense, was the life-changing encouragement he gave to a generation of politically committed social scientists around the world: to avoid ideological extremes, look for unexpected opportunities, be aware of silver linings, map out backward and forward linkages and forge strategies for uneven development, and to approach the future with what he called “a bias for hope.”

At the Wilson Center, Professor Hirschman’s pioneering efforts, as first chairman of the Latin American Program’s Academic Council, helped build a space in Washington for critical inquiry and open debate on the region’s social, political and economic issues and on its relations with the United States and the world economy. Working closely with Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Guillermo O’Donnell, Ricardo Ffrench-Davis, Olga Pellicer and other members of the original Council, and with me as the Program’s founding director, Albert Hirschman assured the high standards, openness, pluralism and independence that has marked the program from its inception and through the years.  

Abraham F. Lowenthal 

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