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Professor John Bellamy Foster wins the Deutscher Memorial Prize 2020 for his latest book, The Return of Nature

Just 18 months ago, UO Sociology Professor John Bellamy Foster was rightly honored with the UO Outstanding Career Award. This latest honor, the Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize, is global in scope and puts Dr. Foster and his work alongside the company of a very small number of intellectuals worldwide.

This award is a cherished honor for anyone whose scholarship engages the interdisciplinary and rich domains of Marxism. The list of past recipients includes notable geographers, cultural theorists, historians, economists, sociologists, and more. The prize is further testimony to the genius and hard work of our colleague, John Bellamy Foster.

The Return of Nature (2020, Monthly Review Press) is an epic genealogy of ecological and socialist thought, charting an historical dialectic that unearths the scientific and aesthetic trajectories of ecosocialism. Over nearly 700 pages, Dr. Foster uncovers a long history of efforts to unite issues of social justice and environmental sustainability that will help us comprehend and counter today’s unprecedented planetary emergencies.

Dr. Foster describes the legacy of the award and its role in UO Sociology as follows:

The Deutscher Prize has been a beacon for me ever since the early 1970s, when I first read Istvan Mészáros’s Marx’s Theory of Alienation, which was the 1970 winner. Mészáros later became a close friend. The very first prize, though, was given in 1969 to Martin Nicolaus for his The Unknown Karl Marx associated with his translation of Marx’s Grundrisse, which was published soon after.
Interestingly, it was Nicolaus, chosen by the left caucus, who gave the big lecture that same year, in May 1969, to the ASA, marking the coming to be of critical sociology and end of the hegemony of functionalist sociology, which had dominated in the post-Second World War years. Some of those who were later to become UO faculty played key roles in those events, which also marked the birth that same year of The Insurgent Sociologist (now Critical Sociology) long housed in our department. Ever since, with lots of ups and down, UO Sociology has retained its reputation as a bastion for critical sociologies.
For me, therefore, this prize is tied up with a whole history that has made the discipline what it is today, in which our department over the years has played a crucial role. And of course, the Deutscher Memorial Prize, as the premier international prize associated with Marxian thought today, symbolizes our department’s long contribution to this area especially, encompassing the contributions of numerous important scholars who have walked our halls.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Foster on this most recent academic and professional accomplishment, and for his extraordinary contributions to sociology and to our department!