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Lee named director of Fernand Braudel Center


Provost Mary Ann Swain has announced the appointment of Richard E. Lee to direct the Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems, and Civilizations. Lee, professor of sociology, has been deputy director of the center since 2002 and steps into the role formerly held by founding director Immanuel Wallerstein, distinguished professor of sociology emeritus.

“I am delighted that Richard has agreed to lead the initiatives of the Fernand Braudel Center,” Swain said. “The center has a rich intellectual history and brings national and international recognition to Binghamton University. Richard’s vision for the future should both sustain this historical excellence and also create different opportunities for students and scholars around the world to come to Binghamton University.”

The center’s activities fall loosely into four categories: • Hosting visiting international scholars; 103 have come to the center since its inception in 1976.

• Sponsoring major conferences and scholarly meetings; 90 on campus and around the world have been sponsored to this point.

• Creating and supporting Research Working Groups and Workshop initiatives; work by nine of these large-scale groups involving 64 scholars from around the world has culminated in major publications.

• Carrying on an active publication program; 22 books in the series it co-sponsors with the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (Cambridge University Press/MSH), three titles in the Fernand Braudel Center Series from Paradigm Publishers and 27 full volumes of Review, the oldest and most prestigious of the journals devoted to world-systems analysis or historical social science.

“The center is unique,” Lee said. “We look at the world as a single unit rather than just a collection of interacting, competing states, and this compels us to alter our research methodologies and practices. Research becomes very exciting, but very difficult. Little or no data is collected on a world scale so we’re forced to be innovative.”

He added: “Also typical of work at the center is that its intellectual framework is explicitly unidisciplinary, a singular historical social science. Looking at the political, market and social/cultural arenas as separate gives us not just an incomplete picture, but one that is less useful for imagining and bringing about a better future.”

Lee earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas at San Antonio before coming to Binghamton University in 1987 as a graduate student. He has been affiliated with the center since his arrival and credits the center’s staff and the Research Foundation for their unwavering support and their positive attitude toward the transitions being made.

“The center has been extraordinarily successfully over the past almost-30 years,” he said. “We want to continue doing all of the kinds of things that we think have contributed to that success. Of course, we are already planning new initiatives appropriate to the times. Stay tuned.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08