James M. Blaut; teacher, activist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Mon Nov 20 09:42:55 MST 2000

Chicago Sun-Times, November 15, 2000, WEDNESDAY, Late Sports Final Edition

James M. Blaut; teacher, activist


An impassioned supporter of the downtrodden, James M. "Jim" Blaut devoted
much of his scholarship to debunking a "Eurocentric" view of the world.

A professor of geography and anthropology at the University of Illinois,
Mr. Blaut, 73, died of cancer Nov. 13 at Norwegian American Hospital.

He was the author of numerous articles and five books on the historical and
political geography of the Third World. His most recent book, Eight
Eurocentric Historians was released last month.

The Association of American Geographers presented him with its 1997
Distinguished Scholar of the Year award. He pioneered the microgeographic
study of peasant farming, and introduced systems analysis into human

Mr. Blaut was active and outspoken on social issues, supporting the
independence of Puerto Rico and participating in rallies and marches
against the Vietnam War.

In the mid-1970s he publicly accused the University of Illinois at Chicago
Circle of discriminating against Latinos. In more recent years, he spoke in
support of Palestinian rights to Jerusalem.

Born in New York City, Mr. Blaut came to Chicago at age 16 to attend the
University of Chicago. After graduating, he did his postgraduate work at
the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad, completing his
Ph.D. at Louisiana State University.

He then held academic positions at Yale, Cornell and College of the Virgin
Islands and was director of the Caribbean Research Institute and a
professor and acting chairman of the geography department at the University
of Puerto Rico.

Survivors include his wife, America (Meca) Sorrentini, and a daughter, Gini
Blaut-Sorrentini. Burial will be in Puerto Rico on Thursday.

Louis Proyect
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