Eric Hobsbawm - Academia


In 1947, he became a Lecturer in History at Birkbeck. He became Reader in 1959, Professor between 1970–82 and an Emeritus Professor of History 1982. He was a Fellow between 1949–55 of King's College, Cambridge. Hobsbawm spoke of the weaker version of McCarthyism that took hold in Britain and affected Marxist academics: "you didn't get promotion for 10 years, but nobody threw you out". Hobsbawm was also denied a lectureship at Cambridge by political enemies, and, given that he was also blocked for a time from a professorship at Birkbeck for the same reasons, spoke of his good fortune at having got a post at Birkbeck in 1948 before the Cold War really started to take off. David Pryce-Jones has questioned the existence of such career obstacles.

Hobsbawm helped found the academic journal Past & Present in 1952. He was a Visiting Professor at Stanford in the 1960s. In 1970, he was appointed Professor and in 1978 he became a Fellow of the British Academy. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1971 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2006.

He retired in 1982 but stayed as Visiting Professor at The New School for Social Research in Manhattan between 1984–97. He was, until his death, President of Birkbeck (from 2002) and Professor Emeritus in The New School for Social Research in the Political Science Department. A polyglot, he spoke German, English, French, Spanish and Italian fluently, and read Portuguese and Catalan.

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