Samir Amin at 80: An Introduction and Tribute

By John Bellamy Foster
Oct 01, 2011

Samir Amin was born in Cairo in 1931, and studied within the French educational system in Egypt (Lycée Français du Caire). He pursued his higher education in Paris at Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris (“Sciences Po”) receiving his diploma in 1952; then at Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques, obtaining his Ph.D. in Political Economy in 1957. He worked in the planning agency of Egypt from 1957 to 1960, until the Nasser regime’s persecution of communists forced him to leave. From 1960–1963 he was attached to the Ministry of Planning of the newly independent Mali. After becoming a full professor in France in 1966, he chose to teach in Paris-Vincennes and Dakar, Senegal. He has been based in Dakar now for over forty years, serving there for ten years as director of the UN African Institute for Economic Development and Planning, and since 1980 directing the African Office of the Third World Forum. He is currently president of the World Forum for Alternatives.1

In my view, Amin’s wide-ranging work can be most succinctly described in terms of the dual designation of The Law of Value and Historical Materialism—the title of one of his books, now in a new edition as The Law of Worldwide Value. Marx’s intellectual corpus, he notes, appears to be divided into writings on economics and writings on politics.