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2023 Webster Library Exhibitions

The Life and Works of Karl Polanyi

Man wearing glasses and plaid jacket sitting at a desk, writing.

October 23 – December 22, 2023

Webster Library, vitrines on LB-2

Curated by: Marguerite Mendell and Ana Gomez

This exhibition showcases a selection of publications, archival material, photographs, and illustrations on "The Life and Work of Karl Polanyi," recognized as one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century. Polanyi's influence continues to grow across all disciplines within the social sciences and humanities. As the complex 21st century unfolds, it is often referred to as Polanyi's century, both to understand the roots of today's crises and to chart urgently needed new pathways.

We have selected several photos of Karl Polanyi's illustrious family, including his brother, philosopher Michael Polanyi, his sister, historian Laura Polanyi, his daughter Kari Polanyi Levitt, among others. Photographs capture Polanyi's life in Hungary, Austria, England, the United States and Canada. Publications in this exhibition are both by and on Karl Polanyi.

Choosing what to include was a challenge as Karl Polanyi's work documents key moments in the history of the 20th century as well as influential writings in economic anthropology in the 1950's until his death in 1964. However, throughout his writings, both academic and as an observer of world events, Polanyi's intellectual journey was an ongoing theoretical inquiry into the world in which he lived to better understand the forces that dominate society.

The exhibition introduces the Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy, located here at Concordia University and the Karl Polanyi Digital Archive which is displayed here as well. The Institute is the repository of the Karl Polanyi Archive. We hope this exhibition will inspire students, faculty, visitors, and users of the Concordia library to discover the Institute and to learn more about Karl Polanyi's legacy.

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