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Remembering V. G. Kiernan

Saturday, February 21, 2009

While writing an upcoming article on Gramsci‘s theory of superstructure, Pashukanis‘ theory of law, and the Oscar Grant case, for the journal Race, Poverty, & the Enviornment, my good (blogger) friend Bhupinder introduced me to an essay by the British Marxist historian V. G. Kiernan.  Unfortunetly he recently passed away at age 95.  Bhupinder blogs:

For those of us in South Asia, Victor Kiernan was known primarily as the translator of Mohammad Iqbal and Faiz Ahmed Faiz. His works as a historian are relatively unknown. Even his translations, for that matter, are not so much read as they are appreciated…A google search yesterday led to a tract ‘Marxism and Gramsci‘ (pdf), written by Kiernan  in 1972 when Gramsci’s works were being introduced to English readers.

Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm has written this about Kiernan:

He was also one of the last survivors of the generation of British Marxist historians of the 1930s and 1940s. If this generation has been seen by the leading German scholar HU Wehler as the main factor behind “the global impact of English historiography since the 1960s”, it was largely due to Victor’s influence. He brought to the debates of the Communist party historians’ group between 1946 and 1956 a persistent, if always courteous, determination to think out problems of class culture and tradition for himself, whatever the orthodox position. He continued to remain loyal to the flexible, open-minded Marxism of the group to which he had contributed so much.


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