The Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy has been awarded a grant of $40,000 U.S. -- worth about $58,000 Canadian -- from the Rockefeller Foundation for the preservation of its archives.
The award was welcome news to Marguerite Mendell, Co-Director of the Institute, and comes on the heels of a decision to house the Institute and its collection in the newly acquired Samuel Bronfman House, on Docteur-Penfield Ave.
Karl Polanyi (1886-1964) was a Hungarian social historian whose writings on the philosophical and historical foundations of liberalism and economic determinism continue to be influential.
In 1988, following the first international Karl Polanyi conference, his daughter, McGill professor Kari Polanyi-Levitt, contributed her father's literary legacy to Concordia, and the Institute was established. Polanyi-Levitt is Co-Director with Professor Mendell, Vice-Principal of Concordia's School for Community and Public Affairs, which has been sharing an annex on Mackay St. with the Institute. Mendell also teaches in Political Science.
The centrepiece of the Institute is the Karl Polanyi Archive. It contains unpublished papers, drafts of manuscripts, lecture notes and outlines, published articles, correspondence, outlines of projected books, notes, papers by him and his students, and memorabilia.
The papers are in three sections: Hungary/Vienna, 1909-1933, when Polanyi was involved with a radical Hungarian student movement; England, 1934-1946, when he was associated with the Christian Left and similar movements at Oxford and the University of London; and North American, 1947-1964, when he conducted seminars at Columbia University.
Concordia's Director of Archives, Nancy Marrelli, advised Mendell in preparing the proposal for the Rockefeller Foundation, and she stressed the urgency of the preservation work that must be done.
Material must be photocopied on acid-free paper and stored appropriately, and additional material received by the Institute must be incorporated into the Archive, and the catalogue revised to include the new documents. Eventually, the collection will be digitalized and made widely accessible for consultation. - BB