Social science lost one of its giants with the death of Charles Tilly on April 29, 2008. The Joseph L. Buttenweiser Professor of Social Science at Columbia University, Tilly had built his reputation on works examining large-scale social change and its relationship to contentious politics, especially in Europe since 1500. His academic expertise covered a wide range of areas, including urbanization, industrialization, collective action, and state making. He was extremely prolific, authoring, coauthoring, editing or coediting fifty-one published books and monographs and over six hundred scholarly articles during his fifty-year career—with two books, Credit and Blame and Contentious Performances, appearing in 2008 alone. His other major publications include the following:
Charles Tilly died a few weeks after receiving the Hirschman Prize. In commemoration, the SSRC featured essays by several of his close colleagues and former students. We also created a page of annotated links to Charles Tilly resources and offered an interactive version of his 2008 article “Memorials to Credit and Blame.” These pages contain a wealth of information on Tilly's life and work, as well as assessments by his peers of the contributions he made to various fields.
“Like Albert Hirschman, Charles Tilly remade fields. He wrote clear books that made complicated and nuanced analyses seem almost obvious. He combined a passion for social science with a determination not to let this be owned by narrow disciplinary agendas or internal academic debates.”Craig Calhoun, SSRC President
“Chuck always pushed me to think across boundaries, resist disciplinary reflexes, and ignore academic hierarchies.”Ron Aminzade, University of Minnesota
“In most things academic, no one has done it better than Chuck Tilly.”Doug McAdam, Stanford University
“Wherever Chuck went, he created places in which intellectual exchange happened—comfortably, critically, profoundly.”Joan Scott, Princeton University
“His abiding characteristic was his generosity. I never sent him a text that he failed to comment on (usually overnight), and his comments always forced me to improve.”Sidney Tarrow, Cornell University
“All of us who knew him and loved him now have the unique opportunity and privilege to remember him and spread his scholarly and human example to those around us.”Viviana Zelizer, Princeton University