About the Project

As usually happens, one could say that this project came to life by accident. How else to explain individuals from Denmark, Serbia, and Chile meeting in France to preserve the legacy of a Greek economist? In reality, this story involves a number of other individuals that made this encounter possible and helped the project materialise. As such, one can hardly talk about coincidences. Rather, it would be more appropriate to talk about science and activism drive individuals toward the same goal and helps them unite to achieve it. Their paths crossing is a result of a long-term process and not a lucky strike.

Arghiri Emmanuel is what everyone involved in the story had in common well before knowing each other. After her father died, Catherine Emmanuel wanted to preserve his archive and teamed up with Arghiri’s ex-assistant Claudio Jedlicki, who tried to find it a new home ever since. Sadly, all institutions he contacted were more interested in the book collection that came with the manuscripts than the manuscripts themselves.

Torkil Lauesen dedicated his whole life to anti-imperialist activism and international solidarity. Lauesen’s group developed a theory they called Parasite State Theory reaching the same conclusion as Emmanuel did a bit later with Unequal Exchange Theory. Unsurprisingly, once they learned of each other’s work, they became natural allies establishing strong ties and collaboration over decades to come. This collaboration resulted in a book under the title “Unequal Exchange and the Prospects of Socialism”, and the translation of a number of Emmanuel’s articles from French to English meant to be published as a book. In one of the last conversations Torkil had with Arghiri, he promised he will keep the idea of unequal exchange alive. Since then he has written a number of books building on this theoretical basis.

Nemanja Lukić is a Yugoslav anti-imperialist activist who learned about Unequal Exchange Theory thanks to Torkil’s political and publishing work. The two of them got in contact as part of the crowdfunding campaign for Torkil’s book The Global Perspective, and started collaborating on a web site that promotes Unequal Exchange as a theoretical basis for anti-imperialist analysis and activism.

Independently from the web site, in recent years a small international community of young people identifying themselves as “Emmanuelists” started taking shape in form of a reading group. One of the outcomes of those discussions was a search for Arghiri’s unpublished material. In Nemanja’s consultation with Torkil in an attempt to identify Arghiri’s not available in a digital format, the translated and unpublished papers came to light. That was a starting point for the digitalisation effort driven by the Emmanuelist community, although at a small scale.

In a parallel development, members of the community managed to establish contact with Claudio Jedlicki and to organise an informal conversation regarding Emmanuel. During the conversation it became clear that there was a common interest for Claudio to preserve the archives in digital form, and for the ongoing project to expand its labour.

After the initial contact with Claudio, a labour organiser and scholar Immanuel Ness together with Joseph Mullen joined forces with Nemanja and Torkil to find a new home for the archives. This collaboration helped connect with Brill which would provide the necessary know-how to make this project successful. Once the initial objectives were established, it was time for a trip to Paris.

The visit to Paris was a special occasion for the participants. It was a time travel and an opportunity to share impressions and memories, as well as to live them over once again. The building where Emmanuel worked with Jedlicki, and where he held a conference with Lauesen is still up and on a walking distance from his old home, in the same neighbourhood where the archives are located. The archives themselves uncovered old mail correspondence with members of Lauesen’s former collective. A particularly emotional was the meeting with Catherine Emmanuel who is eager to preserve the legacy of her father. She gave a more personal touch to the whole project that shows what Arghiri was like personally rather than just as a scholar as he’s more widely known.

This was the starting point in the effort to preserve and popularise the work of Emmanuel and a first step towards establishing the Arghiri Emmanuel Foundation