Faculty illuminate work of Andre Gunder Frank

Scholar Andre Gunder Frank passed away in 2005, yet his research continues to be one of the most cited global sources in the social sciences.

In July, School of Social Transformation faculty members Pat Lauderdale, professor of justice and social inquiry, and Annamaria Oliverio, faculty associate, traveled to Italy to present a lecture on Frank’s work as part of the inauguration of the Andre Gunder Frank Graduate Program in the Social Sciences at the Università della Calabria in Cosenza. Their remarks were titled “Andre Gunder Frank and the World: Going Backward to Go Forward: Imperialism, Capital Accumulation, and Hierarchies.”

Frank was a world-renowned scholar who taught and did research in departments of anthropology, economics, geography, history, international relations, political science, and sociology. He worked at nine universities in North America, three in Latin America, and five in Europe. He gave countless lectures and seminars at dozens of universities and other institutions all around the world in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German and Dutch.

Frank wrote widely on the economic, social and political history and contemporary development of the world system, the industrially developed countries, and especially of the Third World and Latin America, producing 40 innovative books and more than 1,000 research publications in 30 languages.  

His research spanned The Mediterranean, the World System, including The "Cultural Enlargement" of the EU and Europe's Identity" edited by Peter Herrmann (University College Cork) and Arno Tausch (Innsbruck University).  His work in the 1990s focused on world economy and history; his 1998 book, “ReOrient,” received numerous academic awards and now is considered the most impressive analysis of the return of the power and political economy of Asia.

He returned to his analysis of global political economy in the new millennium inspired by a lecture he gave at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, which in 2005 received Andre Gunder Frank's personal library collection and set up the Andre Gunder Frank Memorial Library in his honor.

“Frank’s research makes it clear that some ‘poor’ societies that have become economically dependent may, in fact, be quite developed if we consider factors other than economic ones,” observes Lauderdale. “He explains how rich, developed countries gained from poor, underdeveloped countries when those poor nations remained in the global economic system. More generally, he explains how persistent structural economic crises on a global scale, and the ineffectiveness of Keynesian and fiscal tactics, led to social movements for progressive change.  

“From Frank’s view, the contemporary world system is part of a continuous 5,000 year-old history. He focused upon coercion and imperialism rather than dominant theory on the rise of the West over the last 500 years. Most recently Frank examined how imperialism, coercion, and rigid status hierarchies in the world system continue to dominate political agendas around the globe and the persistence of injustice.”