November 15, 2000, WEDNESDAY,
James M. Blaut; teacher, activist
BY NEIL STEINBERG
An impassioned supporter of the downtrodden, James M. "Jim" Blaut
devoted much of his scholarship to debunking a "Eurocentric" view of
A professor of geography and anthropology at the University of Illinois, Mr. Blaut,
73, died of cancer Nov. 13 at Norwegian American Hospital. He was the author of
numerous articles and five books on the historical and political geography of
the Third World. His most recent book, Eight Eurocentric Historians was released
The Association of American Geographers presented him with its 1997
Distinguished Scholar of the Year award. He pioneered the microgeographic study
of peasant farming, and introduced systems analysis into human geography.
Mr. Blaut was active and outspoken on social issues, supporting
the independence of Puerto Rico and participating in rallies and marches against
the Vietnam War.
In the mid-1970s he publicly accused the University of Illinois at Chicago
Circle of discriminating against Latinos. In more recent years, he spoke in
support of Palestinian rights to Jerusalem.
Born in New York City, Mr. Blaut came to Chicago at age 16 to
attend the University of Chicago. After graduating, he did his postgraduate work
at the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad, completing his
Ph.D. at Louisiana State University.
He then held academic positions at Yale, Cornell and College of the Virgin
Islands and was director of the Caribbean Research Institute and a professor and
acting chairman of the geography department at the University of Puerto Rico.
Survivors include his wife, America (Meca) Sorrentini, and a daughter, Gini Blaut-Sorrentini.
Burial will be in Puerto Rico on Thursday.