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Our history

Sir Bernard Crick, 1929-2008

The department was founded in 1972 by Bernard Crick, author of In Defence of Politics, and George Orwell: A Life. Sir Bernard was an Emeritus Professor of the Department until his death in December 2008.

Bernard Crick was instrumental in the establishment of the George Orwell Memorial Fund, which now funds the George Orwell annual memorial lecture External Site at Birkbeck.

Read Sir Bernard Crick's obituary on The Times website External Site.

Paul Hirst, 1946-2003

Professor Paul Hirst was Professor of Social Theory at Birkbeck for over 30 years before his death in 2003.

An internationally renowned social theorist, Paul Hirst had a massive intellect and a rare insight into the problems of contemporary politics and society. He had tireless enthusiasm and energy for the many projects in which he was engaged.

He was Chair and co-founder of the constitutional reform movement Charter 88; co-founder of the journal Economy and Society; and Chair of the Political Quarterly editorial board. He initiated, and was director of, the London Consortium PhD programme, bringing Birkbeck together with the Architectural Association, the British Film Institute, the Tate and the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

His many works include Associative Democracy (1994); Representative Democracy and its Limits (1990); After Thatcher (1989); Globalisation in Question (1996, 1999, with Grahame Thompson) and War and Power in the 21st Century (2001).

Read Professor Paul Hirst's obituary on The Guardian website.

Birkbeck holds an annual Paul Hirst Memorial Lecture, which serves both to honour his memory and support publicly relevant social and political analysis. Previous Paul Hirst Memorial Lectures include:

  • 2016: Professor Anne Phillips (LSE): 'Are we not both human beings?'
  • 2009: Helena Kennedy QC
  • 2008: Professor Doreen Massey, the Open University, 'Cities in a Global World: Caracas, Venezuela–London, UK'

Professor Paul Hirst

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