William I. Robinson

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William I. Robinson (born March 28, 1959) is an American professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His work focuses on political economy, globalization, Latin America and historical materialism. He is a member of the International Parliamentary and Civil Society Mission to Investigate the Political Transition in Iraq.

Early life[edit]

In the early 1980s Robinson worked as a journalist in war-torn Nicaragua. He was a member of Union of Nicaraguan Journalists (past member and officer 1984–1990).

Academic life[edit]

He then went on to study for his BA in Journalism with the Friends World College in Nairobi (Kenya), Ibadan (Nigeria), and Costa Rica. Following this he received both his MA in Latin American Studies and his PhD in Sociology at the University of New Mexico.

Academic work[edit]

For a list of his many academic journal articles and books see his UCSB Sociology Department website: http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/faculty/robinson/vitae.shtml

For a list of his contributions to Al Jazeera see: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/profile/william-i-robinson.html

Many of his works have been translated into Spanish, some of which can be found here: http://alainet.org/active/show_author.phtml?autor_nombre=William%20I.&autor_apellido=Robinson

Theoretical debates[edit]

Entire symposiums and issues of scholarly journals have focused on discussing and debating Robinson's theories on global capitalism, class, and political economy. See for example the May 2012 issue of Critical Sociology [2], the April 2001 issue of Theory and Society, the debate between Robinson and noted Marxian theorist Ellen Meiksins Wood in issue 15 of the journal Historical Materialism, the debate between British political economist in the 2009 volume 1(2) of the journal of the contemporary science association.


In 2009 Robinson forwarded an e-mail to his "Sociology of Globalization" course, to spur class discussion, that had photos of the 2008-9 Israeli assault on Gaza paralleling photos of the German occupation of the Warsaw Ghetto during the Second World War. The e-mail was widely circulated and became the subject of media controversy, after it was revealed that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a group generally considered to be pro-Israel[1], advised university administrators to punish him. A Jewish student in the class brought a complaint against Robinson, that she was intimidated by the e-mail. The ADL criticized Robinson, considering the matter a case of academic misconduct, while California Scholars for Academic Freedom considered it a case of academic freedom and the charges without merit.[2][3][4] Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, a pro-Israel group of academics, said that the incident had raised "serious questions about his judgment and the value of his teaching," and that "Concern for academic freedom does not justify or erase what is clearly and profoundly flawed pedagogy." [5] Robinson stated that his critics had confused his criticism of Israeli policies with anti-Semitism. "That's like saying if I condemn the U.S. government for the invasion of Iraq, I'm anti-American. It's the most absurd, baseless argument."[6]

University officials initiated an investigation of Robinson to probe the allegations that the email Robinson had forwarded to his class was inappropriate and in violation of the faculty code of ethics. The charges were dismissed in May 2009.[5]


  • Robinson, William I.; Norsworthy, Kent (1987). David and Goliath: the U. S. War Against Nicaragua. New York, N.Y.: Monthly Review Press. ISBN 0-85345-721-2.
  • Robinson, William I. (1992). A Faustian Bargain: U. S. Intervention in the Nicaraguan Elections and American Foreign Policy in the post-Cold War Era. Boulder: Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-8233-5.
  • Robinson, William I. (1996). Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, US Intervention, and Hegemony. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56691-6.
  • Burbach, Roger; Robinson, William; Jeffries, Fiona Margaret (2001). Globalization and Postmodern Politics: from Zapatistas to High Tech Robber Barons. London: Pluto Press. ISBN 0-7453-1649-2.
  • Robinson, William I. (2003). Transnational Conflicts: Central America, Social Change and Globalization. London: Verso. ISBN 1-85984-547-9.
  • Robinson, William I. (2004). A Theory of Global Capitalism: Transnational Production, Transnational Capitalists, and the Transnational State. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-7927-2.
  • Robinson, William I.; Appelbaum, Richard P. (2005). Critical globalization studies. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-94961-0.
  • Robinson, William I. (2008). Latin America and Global Capitalism: A Critical Globalization Perspective (Johns Hopkins Studies in Globalization). The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-9039-0.
  • Robinson, William I. (2014). Globalization and the Crisis of Humanity. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1107691117
  • We Will Not Be Silenced: The Academic Repression of Israel's Critics Paperback (2017) with Maryam S. Griffin ISBN 9781849352765
  • Robinson, William I. (2019). Global Capitalist Crisis and Twenty-First Century Fascism: Beyond the Trump Hype (PDF). Science and Society 83(2).


External links[edit]