Starting in autumn 2018, the Siegfried Landshut Prize will be awarded annually to academics whose analyses have provided important impulses for research into topics and problems that are also addressed by the Hamburg Institute for Social Research. With Siegfried Landshut, the prizewinners not only share the conviction that historically informed precise conceptual work is necessary or that social science comparisons are fruitful; their oeuvre also embodies a theoretical approach to empirical reality that allows them to actively seek contact with neighboring disciplines. The results of the prizewinners’ research - conceived in such a way and guided by an interest in “big” questions - are then typically discussed in a rather controversial manner, thus facilitating a reception by the broader public.
Siegfried Landshut Award Winner 2018: Michael Mann
For his research on global historical issues, the British-American sociologist Michael Mann receives the Siegfried Landshut Prize, first awarded in 2018 by the Hamburg Institute for Social Research (HIS),
Mann is an outstanding representative of historical sociology and a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. His books, such as “The Dark Side of Democracy”, are formative for research into the dark sides of modernity.
Siegfried Landshut: Arrival in Hamburg (by Wolfgang Knöbl)
Born in Straßburg in 1897 to an assimilated Jewish family, Siegfried Landshut fought in World War I, first in France, then in Russia. He was wounded in 1916 but was returned to the front in the same year and served as a non-commissioned officer in Aleppo. When the war was over he managed to make his way to Constantinople from where he traveled by ship to Hamburg, arriving in March 1919.
When political scientist Siegfried Landshut died fifty years ago in December 1968, he left behind a widely scattered body of work, some of it written under the most adverse circumstances, that can be considered stimulating and of fundamental importance for political science to this day. And yet, because it was incompatible with any kind of mainstream thinking, Landshut’s work was rarely recognized and engaged with during his lifetime and largely forgotten after his death. Wilhelm Hennis pointed out, in an academic commemorative speech given in 1969 for his former Hamburg colleague, that he could hardly name another German scholar whose work had been so impaired in its impact by “the adversity of the times”. Even Landshut’s closest academic colleagues knew only that he had been the editor of a volume of Karl Marx’s early writings and of an excellent selection of Tocqueville’s work.1 Looking back in 1998, nearly thirty years later, Hennis described Landshut as the least known of the “founding fathers” of his discipline while at the same time the “leading mind” of the first generation of political scientists in West Germany after 1945.2