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A Biography

Izabela Wagner



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Polity Press
06 October 2020
Global thinker, public intellectual and world-famous theorist of 'liquid modernity', Zygmunt Bauman (1925-2017) was a scholar who, despite forced migration, built a very successful academic career and, after retirement, became a prolific and popular writer and an intellectual talisman for young people everywhere. He was one of those rare scholars who, grey-haired and in his eighties, had his finger on the pulse of the youth.

This is the first comprehensive biography of Bauman's life and work. Izabela Wagner returns to Bauman's native Poland and recounts his childhood in an assimilated Polish Jewish family and the school experiences shaped by anti-Semitism. Bauman's life trajectory is typical of his generation and social group: the escape from Nazi occupation and Soviet secondary education, communist engagement, enrolment in the Polish Army as a political officer, participation in the WW II and the support for the new political regime in the post-war Poland. Wagner sheds new light on the post-war period and Bauman's activity as a KBW political officer. His eviction in 1953 from the military ranks and his academic career reflect the dynamic context of Poland in 1950s and 1960s. His professional career in Poland was abruptly halted in 1968 by the anti-Semitic purges. Bauman became a refugee again - leaving Poland for Israel, and then settling down in Leeds in the UK in 1971. His work would flourish in Leeds, and after his retirement in 1991 he entered a period of enormous productivity which propelled him onto the international stage as one of the most widely read and influential social thinkers of our time.

Wagner's biography brings out the complex connections between Bauman's life experiences and his work, showing how his trajectory as an 'outsider' forced into exile by the anti-Semitic purges in Poland has shaped his thinking over time. Her careful and thorough account will be the standard biography of Bauman's life and work for years to come.
By:   Izabela Wagner
Imprint:   Polity Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 151mm,  Spine: 45mm
Weight:   978g
ISBN:   9781509526864
ISBN 10:   1509526862
Pages:   500
Publication Date:   06 October 2020
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Izabela Wagner is Associate Professor of Sociology at Collegium Civitas in Warsaw, Associate Researcher at DynamE (Dynamiques Europeennes) at Strasbourg University/CNRS, and a fellow of the Institut Convergence Migrations in Paris.

Reviews for Bauman: A Biography

Who was Zygmunt Bauman? The late sociologist, known throughout the world for his path-breaking work on liquid modernity, had a biography. He was a Polish Jew, a soldier, a refugee. He had a whole life before Leeds. Izabela Wagner's great achievement is to recover this other Bauman. This book will change the way we see Bauman, forever. Peter Beilharz, La Trobe University This is a brilliant biography of an extraordinary intellectual. Izabela Wagner, a distinguished sociologist and intellectual historian, has found her subject. Zygmunt Bauman's life embodies a paradigmatic 20th century East-European trajectory. Framed by Hitler's and Stalin's totalitarianisms, it is a story of an attempted assimilation by a bourgeois Jewish family, engagement with Communism by the children's generation, disillusionment and exile. In Bauman's case, of course, this has been accompanied by a lifetime of influential reflection on the conditions and characteristics of modern society. A fascinating read. Jan T. Gross, Princeton University Izabela Wagner's biography of Bauman is impressively erudite, exquisitely researched, and brings its subject vividly to life an indispensable book. Australian Book Review

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