Professor Robin Blackburn

Department of Sociology
Professor Robin Blackburn



Studied and taught Sociology at the LSE and Oxford in the sixties, with interests focusing on historical sociology, critical social theory, modern capitalism and the third world, publishing studies of the Cuban revolution and editing a survey of critical approaches, Ideology in Social Science (1972). Subsequent work explores the institutional shaping of the market, the dynamic of capitalist development, and the historical selection of structures of power and ideology. One strand of this work analyses the dynamics of slavery, slave resistance and anti-slavery, embodied in two books The Making of New World Slavery: from the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800 (1997) and The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, 1776-1848 (1988). These works look at the formation of racial ideologies and national identities in a world beset by rivalry and in transition to modernity. The other strand concerns 20th century attempts to suppress or control the market, and the workings of today's financial institutions, the first leading to 'Fin de Siècle', a long essay on the fall of Communism published in After the Fall (1992), and the second a study entitled 'The New Collectivism' published in the January/February 1999 issue of New Left Review, which subsequently form the basis of 'Banking and Death, or Investing in Life'(2002). Recent academic appointments have been at New School for Social Research (New York), King's College, Cambridge (1998-9), FLACSO (Latin American Social Science Faculty), Quito, Ecuador (1994-5) and the Woodrow Wilson Centre, Washington D.C., US (1993-4). Member of the editorial committee of New Left Review since 1962 and Editor (1981-99); consulting editor, Verso since 1970.


  • BSc (Econ) London

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Race and Slavery

Development of Capitalism

Historical Sociology


Political Economy of pension funds

Teaching and supervision

  • Continuity and Controversy in Sociology: Sociological Analysis II (SC201)

  • Capitalism, Slavery and Race in the Americas 1492 to 2016 (SC916)


Journal articles (32)

Blackburn, R., (2014). Gunboat Abolitionism. New Left Review. 87, 143-152

Blackburn, R., (2014). Obituary - Stuart Hall 1932-2014. New Left Review (86)

Blackburn, R., (2013). Finance for Anarchists: David Graeber’s “Debt". New Left Review. 79, 141-150

Blackburn, R., (2011). Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln: A Curious Convergence*. Historical Materialism. 19 (4), 99-128

Blackburn, R., (2011). CRISIS 2.0. New Left Review (72), 33-62

Blackburn, R., (2011). The Case for a Global Pension and Youth Grant. Basic Income Studies. 6 (1)

Blackburn, R., (2010). Socialism and the current crisis. Dissent (SUMMER)

Blackburn, R., (2010). State of the union marx and america's unfinished revolution. New Left Review (61), 153-174

Blackburn, R., (2009). Value theory and the Chinese worker. New Left Review (56), 128-135

Blackburn, R., (2008). For a social bailout. Nation. 286 (14), 4-6

Blackburn, R., (2008). The subprime crisis. New Left Review (50), 63-106

Blackburn, R., (2007). Case for a global pension and youth grant. Economic and Political Weekly. 42 (29), 3023-3026

Blackburn, R., (2007). How to Tax the rich-and live happily ever after. Dissent (SUMMER)

Blackburn, R., (2007). A global pension plan. New Left Review (47), 71-92

Blackburn, R., (2007). Economic democracy: meaningful, desirable, feasible?. Daedalus. 136 (3), 36-45

Blackburn, R., (2007). How to tax the rich. Dissent. 54 (3), 63-67

Blackburn, R., (2006). Finance and the Fourth Dimension. New Left Review. 39 (39), 39-72

Blackburn, R., (2006). Haiti, slavery, and the age of the democratic revolution. William and Mary Quarterly. 63 (4), 643-674

Blackburn, R., (2006). The Global Pension Crisis: From Gray Capitalism to Responsible Accumulation. Politics & Society. 34 (2), 135-186

Blackburn, R., (2005). Imperial Margarine. New Left Review. 35

Blackburn, R., (2005). Capital and Social Europe. New Left Review. 34 (34), 87-112

Blackburn, R., (2005). Creed and Conquest. New Left Review. 32

Blackburn, R., (2005). Reports and surveys pensions: Challenges and choices. The first report of the pension commission. Political Quarterly. 76 (2), 288-294

Blackburn, R., (2005). Emancipation & empire, from Cromwell to Karl Rove. Daedalus. 134 (2), 72-87

Blackburn, R., (2004). When I?m 65. London Review of Books. 26 (4), 32-34

Blackburn, R., (2004). How to rescue a failing pension regime: the British case. New Political Economy. 9 (4), 559-579

Blackburn, R., (2002). Symptoms of Euro-Denial. New Left Review. 18

Blackburn, R., (2002). The Enron debacle and the pension crisis. New Left Review. 14 (14), 26-51

Blackburn, R., (2000). Putting the hammer down on Cuba. New Left Review. 4 (4), 5-35

Blackburn, R., (1999). The new collectivism: Pension reform, grey capitalism and complex socialism. New Left Review (233), 3-64

Blackburn, R., (1999). Kosovo: The war of NATO expansion. New Left Review (235), 107-123

Blackburn, R., (1997). Reflections on Blair's Velvet Revolution. New Left Review (223), 3-16

Books (8)

Blackburn, R., (2011). The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights. Verso. 9781844675692

Blackburn, R., (2011). An Unfinished Revolution: Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln. Verso. 9781844677221

Blackburn, R., (2011). Revolution and emancipation: The role of abolitionism in ending slavery in the Americas. 9789004188532

Blackburn, R., (2006). Age shock : how finance is failing us. Verso. 9781844670130

Morris, L., (2006). Rights: Sociological perspectives. Routledge. 0415355222. 9780415355216

Blackburn, R., (2003). Banking on Death. Verso. 1859847951

Blackburn, R., (1988). The overthrow of colonial slavery, 1776-1848. Verso. 0860919013

Blackburn, R., (1977). The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800. Verso. 1859848907

Book chapters (13)

Blackburn, RO., (2018). ‘Why the Second Slavery?’. In: Slavery and Capitalism in the Nineteenth Century,. Editors: Tomich, D., . Lexington Books. 1- 38

Blackburn, RO., (2017). Debates on Slavery, Capitalism and Race, New and Old’. Editors: Bottici, C. and Bargu, B., . Palgrave McMillan, NY 2

Blackburn, RO., (2016). ‘Labour Struggles to Renew Itself: From Miliband to Corbyn’. In: Class, Sex and Revolution. Editors: Hort, S., . 115- 155

Blackburn, R., (2014). The Scope of Accumulation and the Reach of Moral Perception: Slavery, Market Revolution and Atlantic Capitalism. In: Emancipation and the remaking of the British Imperial world. Editors: Hall, C., Draper, N. and McClelland, K., . Manchester University Press. 76- 109. 978-0-7190-9183-4

Blackburn, R., (2011). The Global Drive to Commodify Pensions. In: The Routledge International Handbook of Globalization Studies. Editors: Turner, B., . Routledge. 344- 368. 9780415686082

Blackburn, R., (2010). The Role of Slave Resistance in Slave Emancipation. In: Who Abolished Slavery: Slave Revolts and Abolitionism : a Debate with Jo�o Pedro Marques. Editors: Dreschler, S. and Emmer, PC., . Berghahn Books. 169- 178. 9781845456368

Blackburn, R., (2009). Epilogue. In: The World of the Haitian Revolution. Editors: Geggus, DP. and Fiering, N., . University of Indiana Press. 393- 402. 9780253220172

Blackburn, R., (2009). Pension Rights and Pension Finance in the Ageing Society. In: Democracy and social rights in the "two Wests". Editors: Kessler-Harris, A. and Vaudagna, M., . Otto. 157- 182. 9788895285160

Blackburn, R., (2009). Introduction. In: Paths to Freedom: Manumission in the Atlantic World. Editors: Brana-Shute, R. and Sparks, RJ., . University of South Carolina Press. 1- 14. 9781570037740

Blackburn, R., (2007). Revolution and empire. In: Revolution in the Making of the Modern World: Social Identities, Globalization, and Modernity. 165- 181. 020393346X

Blackburn, R., (2007). The Anglo-American pension regime: Failures of the divided welfare state. In: Pension Reform in Europe: Politics, Policies and Outcomes. 155- 174. 0203945689

Blackburn, R., (2006). Return of the proletariat? Pension rights and pension finance in the ageing society. In: Rights: Sociological Perspectives. Editors: Morris, L., . Routledge. 37- 54. 0415355222. 9780415355216

Blackburn, R., (2005). Pension funds and responsible accumulation: The choices facing China. In: The Chinese Model of Modern Development. 175- 187. 0203311280

Conferences (2)

Blackburn, R., (2008). Symposium 1968: Robin Blackburn

Blackburn, R., (2008). 1968: Lessons Learned

Grants and funding


Major Research Fellowship, Slavery & Emancipation

Leverhulme Trust

+44 (0) 1206 873060


6.351, Colchester Campus