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Blanksten, George I.



George I. Blanksten, Latin America expert and political science professor, was born in Chicago on September 19, 1917. He received his B.A. (1939) and M.A. (1940) from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1949. His dissertation, on Ecuadorian constitutional problems, was published in 1951 as Ecuador: Constitutions and Caudillos. Throughout his career, his interests lay in comparative politics and in the political and economic issues facing underdeveloped countries.

Prior to joining Northwestern University, Blanksten was an Instructor at Chicago Public Junior Colleges, 1940-42. He served as a political analyst for the Office of the U.S. Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (1942-44) and for the Department of State (1944-46). He started his career at Northwestern as an Instructor in 1947, became a full professor in 1957, and chaired the Political Science Department in 1956-57, 1963-64, and 1965-70. He taught courses in comparative politics, the politics of Latin America, and political analysis. With Professor Barry Farell, Blanksten also taught the relationships among Canada, the United States, and Central and Latin America. He organized an Institute on Latin America in 1962 (geared at training high-school teachers) and chaired a 1964 conference on comparative and international politics. Blanksten held visiting professorships at several universities nationwide and in Mexico. He retired from Northwestern University in 1988.

Blanksten took a number of research trips to the countries of Latin America and was the author of many books and journal articles on Latin American politics and economies. A Ford Foundation Fellowship, granted to Blanksten in 1959, allowed him to pursue research in the United States on the relationship between economic development and political change in underdeveloped countries. In the early 1960s, he chaired an Advisory Committee of the National Academy of Science's National Research Council, advising the U.S. Army Research Office on “Project Camelot,” which considered social scientists as trainers for military personnel, helping them understand those “indigenous cultures” that were susceptible to the influences of insurgent (anti-American) factions. As a result of this involvement, he was called upon to testify before the United States Senate in 1967 about the advisability of establishing a National Foundation for the Social Sciences. In 1967-68, Blanksten chaired the coordinating committee of the National Council for Freedom and Democracy in Greece, which worked to restore Andreas Papandreou's position as President of Greece. He also served as a Peace Corps instructor.

George Blanksten died on December 31, 2001 in Glenview, Illinois.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

George I. Blanksten (1917-2001) Papers

Identifier: 11/3/22/8

The George Blanksten Papers fill two archival boxes and span the years 1952 to 2002, with the bulk of the papers falling between 1960 and 1976. The papers provide an overview of Blanksten's career at Northwestern University and of his contribution as a consultant/Latin America expert to the U.S. government during that time.

Dates: 1952-2002