Andre Gunder Frank (1929-2005)

Andre Gunder Frank was born in Berlin on February 24, 1929. He was an economics professor and theorist and one of the founders of the ‘Dependence theory’, developed in the sixties. In his more recent work he focussed his attention on the analysis of the crisis in world economy and then also on global world history. He was married to Marta Fuentes, with whom he wrote several studies about social movements. They had two sons. She died in Amsterdam in June 1993. Andre Gunder Frank left Germany as a boy when his parents had to escape the Nazi regime. In 1941 they entered the United States.

Andre Gunder Frank was educated at the University of Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. in Economics in 1957 with a dissertation on Soviet Agriculture. From 1957 until 1962 he was lecturer and Assistant Professor at the universities of Michigan, Iowa and Wayne State. In 1962, he went to Latin America and became Associate Professor at the University of Brasilia teaching anthroplogical theory. Then he became Extraordinary Professor at the National School of Economics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1965. From 1966 until 1968, he was Visiting Professor at the Departments of Economics and History of the Sir George Williams University, Montreal, Canada. In 1968 he became Professor at the Department of Sociology and the Faculty of Economics, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile, where he was involved in the reforms of the Salvador Allende administration. After the military coup in 1973 he escaped to Europe, where he became Visiting Research Fellow at the Max-Planck Institute in Starnberg, Germany, from 1974 until 1978. In that year he moved to Norwich, England, where he was appointed Professor of Development Studies at the School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia. From 1981 he was also Professor of Development Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Amsterdam, to where he definitely moved in 1983. Besides he had many other temporary visiting appointments and research appointments in among others the USA, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Belgium, Germany and France. In 1994, at the age of 65, Frank went into mandatory retirement from his professorship in the Faculty of Economics at the University of Amsterdam.

Since then, he has been Visiting, Visiting Distinguished, and Adjunct Professor at five universities, one in Toronto where he also wrote his latest book ReOrient, and in 1999-2000 at two in Miami. For the Fall semester of 2001, Frank was Visiting Professor of World History at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, and presently is Senior Fellow at the World History Center of Northeastern University in Boston.

So, Frank has taught and and done research in departments of anthropology, economics, geography, history, international relations, political science, and sociology, not to mention interdisciplinary ones, in 9 universities in North America, 3 in Latin America, and 5 in as many countries in Europe. He has also given countless lectures and seminars at many dozens of universities and other institutions all around the world in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German and Dutch.

Andre Gunder Frank has written 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. He has produced over 950 publications in 29 languages, including 43 book titles in 140 different language editions, and 160+ printings, 169 chapters contributed to 145 books edited by others and a couple by himself, and some 400 articles published in over 600 issues of academic journals, more popular ones, and newspapers. For that reason, he must now regard himself as also being irresponsible for the waste of it is difficult to estimate how many trees to provide paper for these countless printed pages. Bibliographies of Frank’s publications can be found in IISG folder 134, as well as the Publications section and especially in the Bibliography of 880 Publications 1955-1995.

Apart from these listings, further accounts of this academic experience and the development of his work may be found in the autobiographical/bibliographical essay “The Underdevelopment of Development.” This essay, taken from a festschrift of the same title in his honor, reviews four decades of involvement in development studies and specifically in developing dependency theory, especially in Latin America in the 1960s, and the 1970s and 1980s during which he dedicated two decades, four books, probably a hundred articles, and still more public interventions to analyzing and forecasting international political economic (IPE) events, cycles and policy formation during the world economic crisis since 1967.

In the 1990s, Frank increasingly turned his attention to world history and produced (with Barry Gills) The World System about the last five thousand years of world history and ReOrient about most of the last five hundred. The prefaces to both books review the development of Frank’s thinking during recent decades and give an account of the history and emergence of theoretical positions and related proposals for further research in these books. These prefaces also discuss the implicit and often explicit dialogue with colleagues whose paths have intersected, paralleled or neither with in the context and that leading up to writing these books.

Andre Gunder Frank died on May 2005 – at the age 76 of cancer.

He was best known as an early exponent of dependency theory, which asserted that rich, developed countries gained from poor, under-developed countries so long as they remained in the international capitalist system. He wrote 40 books and nearly a thousand articles and other pieces.

Major Works of Andre Gunder Frank

– General Productivity in Soviet Agriculture and Industry, 1958, JPE
– Goal Ambiguity and Conflicting Standards: An approach to the study of organization, 1958, Human Organization
– The Development of Underdevelopment, 1966, MRP
– Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America, 1967
– Latin America: Underdevelopment or revolution, 1969
– Lumpenbourgeoisie, Lumpendevelopment, 1972
– On Capitalist Underdevelopment, 1975
– Economic Genocide in Chile: Equilibrium on the point of a bayonet, 1976
– Long Live Transideological Enterprise: the socialist economies in the capitalist international division of labor, 1977, Review
– World Accumulation, 1492-1789, 1978
– Dependent Accumulation and Underdevelopment, 1978
– Mexican Agriculture 1521-1630: Transformation and the mode of production, 1979
– Crisis in the World Economy, 1980
– Crisis in the Third World, 1981
– Reflections on the World Economic Crisis, 1981
– Dynamics of Global Crisis, with S. Amin, G. Arrighi and I. Wallerstein, 1982
– The European Challenge, 1983
– Critique and Anti-Critique, 1984
– Ten Theses on Social Movements, with M. Fuentes, 1989, World Development
– Theoretical Introduction to Five Thousand Years of World System History, 1990, Review
– Civil Democracy, Social Movements in World History, with M. Fuentes, 1990, in Amin et al., Transforming the Revolution
– Revolution in Eastern Europe: Lessons for democratic socialist movements (and socialists), 1990, in Tabb, editor, Future of Socialism
– The Underdevelopment of Development, with M.F. Frank, in Savoie, editor, Equity and Efficiency in Economic Development.
– Globalization, 1400-1800 – excerpts
– Third World War – excerpts
– Reorient: Global economy in the Asian age, 1998 – Preface, Excerpts

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