Samuel P. Huntington, dead at 81

From the Los Angeles Times comes word of the death of Harvard academic Samuel P. Huntington.

He was best known for his views on the clash of civilizations. He argued that in a post-Cold War world, violent conflict would come not from ideological friction between nation states, but from cultural and religious differences among the world’s major civilizations.

He identified those major civilizations as Western (including the United States and Europe), Latin American, Islamic, African, Orthodox (with Russia as a core state), Hindu, Japanese and “Sinic” (including China, Korea and Vietnam).

He made the argument in a 1993 article in the journal Foreign Affairs and then expanded the thesis into a book, “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order,” which appeared in 1996. The book has since been translated into more than 30 languages.

While the Times summary of his work might seem noncontroversial, the man was anything but. For most of his 58 year career at Harvard he produced academic work based on simplistic and white-centered interpretations of the past and present, often with dire intellectual consequences.  For those concerened with Latinos in the Americas, Huntington was one of a small group who helped to use their positions in the ivory tower to legitimate racism and fear.

And now he’s dead.  I’m just saying…

9 thoughts on “Samuel P. Huntington, dead at 81

  1. great stuff here as ever andy and really well put together. Ta for inc my comments etc. I am going through this and picking up music I have missed or forgotten about. Certainly the B Boys are one – you put me onto them and their debut album is stunning. Hope all’s good and best for 09. Nx

  2. Really a well written piece in memory of Samuel P. Huntington who came into fame in the post Cold war period for his hypothesis on how the world would be post the Cold war. This memorial website will always keep the memory of the man alive.

  3. If you’re going to defame someone of Huntington’s stature (whether that stature be deserved or not), you at least owe us a few examples of these “dire consequences” as well as how he might have “legitimated racism and fear”.

    I’ve read some Huntington myself, and I must say that I’m not sure to what you’re referring. But then again, I wasn’t trained in the complex field of race-class-gender grievance.

  4. Oh, he’s dead…no grievance intended.

    Since I’ll assume that’s not the defamation to which you refer, let me say that my brief remarks are like whispers of sweet nothings in his ear compared to more deliberate critiques he faced in his professional lifetime.

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