Functionalism, Institutionalism, and Beyond: Revisiting David Mitrany’s Intellectual Legacy. A Conversation


Secțiunea de Științe Sociale din cadrul ICUB a organizat vineri, 1 iulie 2016, ora 12.00, la Sala de consiliu a Facultății de Sociologie și Asistență Socială (Schitu Măgureanu nr.9) evenimentul ”FUNCTIONALISM, INSTITUTIONALISM, AND BEYOND: REVISITING DAVID MITRANY’S INTELLECTUAL LEGACY. A CONVERSATION”.

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The research Institute of the University of Bucharest (ICUB) invites you to a public conversation aiming to introduce, reconstruct and establish the contemporary importance of the work of a significant but forgotten author of Romanian origins, active in the first half of the 20th century, David Mitrany, whose ideas (the functionalist theory of cooperation) – if refurbished and recalibrated to the current landscape of social sciences and public debate – may become a significant element in the construction of a new generation of theories regarding governance.

Reassessing and reconstructing “functionalism” leads, sooner or later, to an effort to revisit the fascinating and puzzling life and personality of its originator, David Mitrany.  Some excerpts from his bio, as presented on the London School of Economics archives page, offer a rather intriguing picture of this scholar: Professor of Political Economy; Assistant European Editor, Economic and Social History of the World War, sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1922-1929; Visiting Professor, Harvard University 1931-1933; Dodge Lecturer, Yale University, 1932; Nielsen Research Professor, Smith College, 1951; Member, British Coordinating Committee for International Studies, 1927-1930; Professor in School of Economics and Politics, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, 1933-1939 and 1946-1956.

Far from being a neglected author in his time, Mitrany was a preeminent figure – when the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies was created, Mitrany was invited to become one of the fellows representing social sciences alongside experts such as Einstein, who was representing natural sciences. However, despite the recognition he received during those times and the recognition he receives today as being one of the key theorists inspiring the European integration project, his theoretical and scholarly legacy has been neglected. Moreso, although his ideas inspired an entire development in International Relation Theory (called “neoliberalism”, “neoliberal institutionalism” or “functionalist liberalism”) via a lineage of authors including K. Deutsch, R. Keohane and J. Nye, he left posterity no real disciples or school of thought under his name.

Prof. Dragoș Paul Aligica, visiting fellow at ICUB, will lead the conversations by presenting some introductory considerations regarding the nature, context and applicability of Mitrany’s ideas, with a view to their relevance for the contemporary agenda. In addition to that, Prof. Aligica will share some of the preliminary findings of his pioneering work in the David Mitrany Archives at London School of Economics.

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