Wednesday, April 30, 2008

RIP: Charles Tilly

Charles Tilly, one of the leading scholars on the nature of the nation-state, has died of lymphoma at 79. I'd never met Tilly - I was really hoping to actually have a chance to at least see him at Columbia come the fall, even if it was a brief meeting. Unlike Rob, by the time I got around to reading Tilly, I had already really had my general notion on the roles and functions of states challenged, and had come to some pretty thorough beliefs on the role of the state in society myself. That said, his work was still really impressive, and has indirectly influenced my own thinking on the state in my dissertation. From those who knew him, it seems he couldn't have been a nicer guy, and a down-to-earth academic who didn't let the petty politics of academia affect him (Crooked Timber has a post up including one of his own self-descriptions: "Among Tilly’s negative distinctions he prizes 1) never having held office in a professional association, 2) never having chaired a university department or served as a dean, 3) never having been an associate professor, 4) rejection every single time he has been screened as a prospective juror. He had also hoped never to publish a book with a subtitle, but subtitles somehow slipped into two of his co-authored books.") He will certainly be missed by those who never knew him but who loved his work, and moreso by those who counted him among their family and friends.