Zygmunt Bauman dies at 91


Zygmund Bauman, the world-renowned sociologist, has died at the age of 91.

Regarded as one of the most important social theorist of the past 50 years, Professor Bauman’s works on postmodernity and consumerism are considered groundbreaking works.

He also coined the term “allosemitism”, describing all reactions – whether positive or negative - towards Jews as the “other”.

He was head of the department of sociology at Leeds University until he retired at 1990.

Ed Miliband, the former leader of the Labour Party, paid tribute to Prof Bauman, tweeting that he was “a man of extraordinary intellect and deep compassion who believed in humanity”.

Sir Alan Langlands, the university’s vice-chancellor, said Prof Bauman was “a man of deep intellect and compassion who inspired successive generations of staff and students at Leeds. A social theorist of great distinction, his insights and ideas were respected and admired around the world.”

Prof Bauman was into a Jewish family in Poznan, Poland in 1925. Having been the victim of antisemitism in his youth, he joined the Communist party.

He and his family later fled to the USSR to escape the Nazis, and he fought for a Polish army unit under Soviet command.

Having returned to Poland, he was teaching sociology at the University of Warsaw when the Communist regime initiated a campaign of repression against Polish Jews, which led to the expulsion of thousands of Jews from the country.

He briefly moved to Israel, where he lectured at universities in Tel Aviv and Haifa, before moving to Britain in 1971, where he joined Leeds University.  In 2010 the university founded the Bauman Institute in his honour - it focuses on sociology, philosophy, political science and economics.

Over the course of his career, Prof Bauman published over 50 books. “Modernity and the Holocaust”, perhaps his most famous work, argued that contrary to the opinion that the Holocaust was a breakdown in modernity, "it was the rational world of modern civilization that made the Holocaust thinkable.”

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