George Steinmetz



The Devil’s Handwriting: Precoloniality and the German Colonial State in Qingdao, Samoa, and Southwest Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. ISBN: 0226772438 (paper); 0226772411 (cloth).

Regulating the Social: The Welfare State and Local Politics in Imperial Germany. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993.


Edited Volumes:

Sociology and Empire. The Imperial Entanglements of a Discipline. Edited by George Steinmetz. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013. ISBN: 978-0-8223-5279-2 (paperback) and 978-0-8223-5258-7 (cloth).

The Politics of Method in the Human Sciences: Positivism and its Epistemological Others, edited by George Steinmetz. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005. ISBN: 0822335069 (paper); 0822335182 (cloth).

State/Culture. State Formation after the Cultural Turn, edited by George Steinmetz. Ithaca, NY:  Cornell University Press, 1999. ISBN: 0801485339 (paper); 0801436737 (cloth).


Monograph, currently completing: 

Colonial Sociologists in the British and French Empires,1940s-1960s: A Post-Imperial History of the Discipline. Completing in 2016. 


Documentary Film:

“Detroit; Ruin of a City. A Documentary Road Movie about Detroit and the Automobile Industry.”  Codirected with Michael Chanan. Soundtrack by Michael Nyman. First edition 2005, revised version (with Spanish and Chinese subtitles), distributed by Art Films,


Articles and book chapters  

 Forthcoming “Pierre Bourdieu, l’histoire et la sociologie historique.” In Dictionnaire international Bourdieu. Paris: CNRS Éditions.

Forthcoming  “Bourdieusian Field Theory and the Reorientation of Historical Sociology.” In Oxford Handbook of Pierre Bourdieu. Edited by Jeff Sallaz and Tom Medvetz. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Forthcoming “Postcolonial Theories and Marxisms: Rethinking a Non-Debate.” Constellations. An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory.

2017 “How Not to do Interdisciplinarity.” Political Power and Social Class, Special issue on “The History and Philosophy of the Social Sciences,” co-edited by George Steinmetz and Timoth Rutzou.

2017  “Editors’ Introduction.” Political Power and Social Class, Special issue on “The History and Philosophy of the Social Sciences,” co-edited by George Steinmetz and Timoth Rutzou.

2017 “Sociology and Colonialism in the British and French Empires, 1940s-1960s.”  Journal of Modern History (September).

2017 “Field Theory and Interdisciplinary: Relations between History and Sociology in Germany and France during the Twentieth Century.” Comparative Studies in Society and History vol. 59, no. 2 (April 2017).

2017 “The Octopus and the Hekatonkheire: On Many-Armed States and Tentacular Empires.” In The Many Hands of the State, edited by Ann Orloff and Kimberly Morgan. New York: Cambridge University Press, January 2017.

2016 “Social Fields, Subfields, and Social Spaces, at the Scale of Empires: Explaining the Colonial State and Colonial Sociology.” In Julian Go and Monika Krause, eds., Fielding Transnationalism (Chichester, West Sussex, UK: John Wiley Sons, 2016), Sociological ReviewMonographs vol. 64, no. 2; pp. 98-123.

2016 “How Interdisciplinary Works: Field Theory and the Study of Interactions between History and Sociology.” Items: Insights from the Social Sciences (Socal Science Research Council, New York), at

2015 “Historical Sociology, Ethics, Policy, and Politics.” Trajectories: Newsletter of the ASA Comparative and Historical Sociology Section vol. 28, no. 2 (December),  1-10.

2015  “Neo-Bourdieusche Theorie und die Frage wissenschaftlicher Autonomie: Deutsche Soziologen und der Imperialismus zwischen 1890 und 1945.”  Pp. 336-399 in Soziologiegeschichte. Wege und Ziele. Edited by Christian Dayé and Stephan Moebius. Berlin: STW – Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Wissenschaft. ISBN: 978-3-518-29744-5.

2015 “The Spontaneous Sociology of Detroit’s Hyper-Crisis.” Pp. 15-35 in Reinventing Detroit, The Politics of Possibility, edited by Michael Peter Smith and L. Owen Kirkpatrick. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. With Mathieu Desan.

2015       “Bourdieu on the State. A review essay of Pierre Bourdieu, On the State. Lectures at the Collège de France 1989-1992.” Sociologica (Italian Journal of Sociology online), issue 1, 2015 (April)

2015 “Sovereignty and Sociology: From State Theory to Theories of Empire.” Political Power and Social Theory , volume 28, pp. 269-285. With Julia Adams.

2015    “On the Articulation of Marxist and Non-Marxist Theory in Colonial Historiography. Vivek Chibber’s Postcolonial Theory and the Spectre of Capital.Journal of World System Research, Volume 20, Number 2, Summer/Fall 2014.

2014 “Scientific Autonomy and Empire, 1880-1945: Four German Sociologists.” Pp. 46-73 in German Colonialism in a Global Age, edited by Geoff Eley and Bradley Naranch. Duke University Press.

2014  “Defensive Anthropology.” Postcolonial Studies, volume 17, issue 4, pp. 436-450.

2014 “État-mort, État-fort, État-empire.” Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales 201, pp. 112-119.

2014 “From Sociology to Socioanalysis : Rethinking Bourdieu’s Concepts of Habitus, Symbolic Capital, and Field along Psychoanalytic Lines.”  Pp. 205-221 in Lynn Chancer and John Andrews, eds., The Unhappy Divorce of Sociology and Psychoanalysis. Diverse Perspectives on the Psychosocial. London: Palgrave Macmillan (Psychosocial Series in Psychology and Sociology).

2014    “Ruinopolis: Post-Imperial Theory and Learning from Las Vegas.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. Volume 38.3 (May 2014), pp. 1047–68. With Julia Hell.

2014 “The Sociology of Empires, Colonialism, and Postcolonialism.” Annual Review of Sociology 40 (July): 77–103.

2014    “Empires, Imperial States, and Colonial Societies.” Pp. 58-74 in Concise Encyclopedia of Comparative Sociology, edited by Masamichi Sasaki, Jack Goldstone, and Eckart Zimmermann.  Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV.

Portugese translation, forthcoming, reader on empires and imperialism, edited by Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo, in series História & Sociedade.

2014    “Comparative History and its Critics: A Genealogy and a Possible Solution.” In A Companion to Global Historical Thought, edited by Prasenjit Duara, Viren Murthy and Andrew Sartori. Blackwell, pp. 412-436.

2014    “British Sociology in the Metropole and the Colonies, 1940s-1960s.” Pp. 302-337 in John Scott and John Holmwood, eds., The Palgrave Handbook of Sociology in Britain. Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN: 978-0-230-29981-8, ISBN10: 0-230-29981-4.

2013    “Sociologjia dhe historia: Ndarja dhe ndërveprimi disiplinor në kufijtë mes dy disiplinave” (Sociology and History: Disciplinary Separation and Interaction at the Borderlands between the Two Disciplines), pp. 177-205 in Fatos Tarifa (ed.), Shkencat e shoqerise: Sociologjia si disipline integruese per studimin e jetes shoqerore (The Sciences of Society: Sociology as an Integrative Discipline for the Study of Social Life), with an Introduction by Anthony Giddens. Tirana: Albanian Academy of Arts and Sciences.  

2013    “A Child of the Empire: British Sociology and Colonialism, 1940s-1960s.” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 49(4): 353-378.

2013 “Empire and Colonialism.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Sociology, edited by Jeff Manza. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

2013    “Major Contributions to Sociological Theory and Research on Empire, 1830s-present.”  In Sociology and Empire, edited by George Steinmetz. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, pp. 1-50.

2013 “Preface.” In Sociology and Empire. edited by George Steinmetz. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, pp. ix-xiii.

2013  “Toward Socioanalysis: The ‘Traumatic Kernel’ of Psychoanalysis and Neo-Bourdieusian Theory.” In Phil Gorski (ed.), Bourdieu and Historical Analysis (Durham: Duke University Press, 2013): 108-130.

2012    “The Imperial Entanglements of Sociology and the Problem of Scientific Autonomy in Germany, France, and the United States.” Pp. 857-872 in Hans-Georg Soeffner (ed.), Transnationale Vergesellschaftungen. Verhandlungen des 35. Kongresses der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie in Frankfurt am Main 2010. Vol. 2. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.

2012    “Geopolitics.” Pp. 800-822 in The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Globalization, Volume II, ed. George Ritzer. Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.

2011 “百年间的社会学帝国主义研究和科学自治权:德国、法国和美国 1910-2010.” (“Empire, Sociology, and Scientific Autonomy: The Example of German, French, and American Sociologists, ca. 1910-2010”).  中国社会科学 (Chinese Social Sciences Today). Published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. October 11, No. 268, p.

2011    “Bourdieu, Historicity, and Historical Sociology.” Cultural Sociology vol. 5, issue 1 (2011), pp. 45-66.

2010  “La sociologie et l’empire: Richard Thurnwald et la question de l’autonomie scientifique.” Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales no. 185 (December), pp. 12-29.

2010 “La production des représentations coloniales et postcoloniales.” Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales no. 185 (December), pp. 4-11.

2010    “Tout parcours scientifique comporte des moments autobiographiques (entretien).  Interview with Georges Balandier.” Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales no. 185 (December), pp. 44-61.

2010 “Feldtheorie, der deutsche Kolonialstaat und der deutsche ethnographische Diskurs 18801920.” Pp. 193-216 in Manuela Boatcă and Willfried Spohn, eds., Globale, multiple und postkoloniale Modernen. Munich: Rainer Hampp Verlag, 2010.

2010 “Colonial Melancholy and Fordist Nostalgia: The Ruinscapes of Namibia and Detroit.” In Julia Hell and Andreas Schoenle, eds., Ruins of Modernity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Pp. 294-320.

2010    “Charles Tilly, historicism, and the critical realist philosophy of science.” American Sociologist, volume 41, number 4, 2010, pp. 312-336.

2010  “Thirty Years of Thesis Eleven: A Survey of the Record and Questions for the Future.” Thesis Eleven, number 100 (2010): 67-80.

2010  “Ideas in Exile: Refugees from Nazi Germany and the Failure to Transplant Historical Sociology into the United States.” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 23(1): 1-27.

2009  “The Imperial Entanglements of Sociology in the United States, Britain, and France since the 19th Century. Ab Imperio: teorii͡ a i istorii͡ a nat͡ sionalʹnosteĭ i nat͡ sionalizma vostsovetskom prostranstve (theory and history of nationalities and nationalism in the post-Soviet space). Issue 4, pp. 23-78.

2009 “Neo-Bourdieusian Theory and the Question of Scientific Autonomy: German Sociologists and Empire, 1890s-1940s.” Political Power and Social Theory, vol. 20, pp. 71-131.

Reprinted in Julian Go, ed., Postcolonial Sociologies: A Reader (Emerald, 2016), pp. 145-206.

2009  “Detroit: A Tale of Two Crises.” Society and Space/Environment and Planning D, Volume 27, Number 5 (October), pp. 761-770.

German translation in LuXemburg: Gesellschaftspolitik und linke Praxis,number 34 (2010), pp. 6-8.

2009  “A Monument under Lock and Key: Germany’s Colonial Lieux de Mémoire.” Germanic Review 84:3 (Summer), pp. 251-258.

2009    “The New Aesthetic-Political Avant-Garde: Linda Zerilli’s Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom.” Sociological Theory 27(1): 85-89.

2008    “Logics of History as a Framework for an Integrated Social Science.” Social Science History 32:4 (Winter 2008), pp. 535-554.

2008    “Harrowed Landscapes: White Ruingazers in Namibia and Detroit and the Cultivation of Memory.” Visual Studies, vol. 23, no. 3 (2008), pp. 211-237.

2008    “The Colonial State as a Social Field.” American Sociological Review 73(4) (August 2008), pp. 589–612. 

2008  “La sociologie historique en Allemagne et aux Etats-Unis : un transfert manqué (19301970).”  Genèses, number 71 (June 2008), pp. 123-147.

2008  “Empire et domination mondiale.” Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, numbers 171-172 (March), pp. 4-19.

2008  “Le champ de l’état colonial: le cas des colonies allemandes de l’Afrique du Sud Ouest, de Qingdao et de Samoa.” Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, numbers 171-172 (March), pp. 120-141.

2008  “Présentation de W.E.B. Du Bois.” Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, numbers 171-172 (March), pp. 75-77.

2008    “The Historical Sociology of Historical Sociology: Germany and the United States in the 20th century.” Sociologica (Italian Journal of Sociology online), issue 3 (February).

Available online at

2007  “American Sociology before and after World War Two: The (Temporary) Settling of a Disciplinary Field.”  In Craig Calhoun (Editor). Sociology in America. The ASA Centennial History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Ch. 9, pp. 314-366.

2007 “Fordism and the Positivist Revenant:  Response to Burris, Fourcade-Gourinchas, and Riley.” Social Science History 31:1, pp. 127-152.

2007    “The Relations between Sociology and History in the United States: The Current State of Affairs.” Journal of Historical Sociology, vol. 20, no. 1-2, pp. 1-12.

2007    “Transdisciplinarity as a Nonimperial Encounter.”  Thesis Eleven, vol. 91 (November) number 1, pp. 48-65.

French translation: “Pour une sociologie transdisciplinaire et non-impériale.” Regards sociologiques, numbers 37-38 (2009), pp. 11-22.  Translation by Joël Cabalion et Mathieu Hauchecorne.

2006    “Bourdieu’s disavowal of Lacan: Psychoanalytic theory and the concepts of “habitus” and ‘symbolic capital’.” Constellations 13:4 (December 2006), pp. 445-464.

2006  “Regulation Theory, Post-Marxism, and the Transition from the New Social Movements to Anti-Globalization and the Far Right.” In Modes of Comparison: Theory and Practice, edited by Aram Yengoyan. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, pp. 45-97.

2006  “Drive-By Shooting: Making a Documentary about Detroit.”  Michigan Quarterly Review Vol. 45, number 3 (summer), pp. 491-513.

2006 “Decolonizing German Theory: An Introduction.”  Postcolonial Studies, Volume 9, number 1 (2006), pp. 3-13.

2006  “The Visual Archive of Colonialism: Germany and Namibia.” Public Culture 18:1 (2006), pp.141-182. With Julia Hell.

2006  “Imperialism or Colonialism?  From Windhoek to Washington, by way of Basra.” Pp. 135-156 in Lessons of Empire. Imperial Histories and American Power, edited by Craig Calhoun, Fred Cooper, and Kevin Moore. New York: The New Press.

2005 “Return to Empire: The New U.S. Imperialism in Theoretical and Historical Perspective.” Sociological Theory, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 339-367.

Reprinted as “The New U.S. Empire.” Ch. 34 in The New Social Theory Reader: Contemporary Debates, edited by Steven Seidman and Jeffrey C. Alexander. Second, revised edition. London: Routledge, 2008.

2005  “A Disastrous Division;  Thoughts from the Border between Historical Sociology and History.” Newsletter of the Comparative Historical Section of the American Sociological Association, vol. 17, no. 1 (fall), pp. 7-10.

2005  “The Cultural Contradictions of Irving Louis Horowitz.” Michigan Quarterly Review, Summer 2005 (summer) 44(3):496-505.

2005  “The Genealogy of a Positivist Haunting: Comparing Prewar and Postwar U.S. Sociology.” boundary 2, volume 32, number 2 (summer), pp. 107-133.

2005 “Von der  ‘Eingeborenenpolitik΄ zur Vernichtungsstrategie: Deutsch-Südwestafrika, 1904”  [“From ‘Native Policy’ to the Extermination Strategy: German Southwest Africa, 1904”] Peripherie, Zeitschrift für Politik und Ökonomie der Dritten Welt, number 96, pp. 195-227.

2005  “Positivism and its Others in the Social Sciences.”  Introduction to The Politics of Method in the Human Sciences: Positivism and its Epistemological Others, edited by George Steinmetz.  Duke University Press, pp. 1-56.

2005  “Scientific Authority and the Transition to Post-Fordism: The Plausibility of Positivism in American Sociology since 1945.” Chapter Six in The Politics of Method in the Human Sciences: Positivism and its Epistemological Others, edited by George Steinmetz.  Duke University Press,  pp. 275-323.

2005  “American Sociology’s Epistemological Unconscious and the Transition to Post-Fordism: the case of Historical Sociology.”  Pp. 109-157 in Julia Adams, Elisabeth Clemens, and Ann Orloff, eds., Remaking Modernity: Politics, Processes and History in Sociology. Duke University Press.

2004 “The Uncontrollable Afterlives of Ethnography: Lessons from German ‘Salvage Colonialism’ for a New Age of Empire.” Ethnography, Vol. 5, number 3, pp. 251-288.

2004 “Odious Comparisons: Incommensurability, the Case Study, and “Small N’s in Sociology.” Sociological Theory, Vol. 22, number 3, pp. 371-400.

2003  “The Devil’s Handwriting”: Precolonial Discourse, Ethnographic Acuity and CrossIdentification in German Colonialism,” Comparative Studies in Society and History Vol. 45, number 1 (January), pp. 41-95.

Chinese translation: “Mogui de biji – Qian zhimin huayu, renzhong/zhongzu jianjie he kua wenhau rentong zai Deguo zhimin guocheng zhong de zuoyong.” In Qinghua daxue xuebao (Journal of Tsinghua University, Philosophy and social sciences), Vol. 20, Number 6 (2005), pp. 86-106.  

French translation:  “L’écriture du diable. Discours précolonial, posture ethnographique et tensions dans l’administration coloniale allemande des Samoa.”  In Politix. Revue des sciences sociales du politique (Paris: Presses de la Fondation nationale des sciences politiques), volume 17, number 66 (September 2004), pp. 48-80.  Special issue on “L’Etat Coloniale,” edited by Romain Bertrand and Emmanuelle Saada.

2003 “The State of Emergency and the New American Imperialism: Toward an Authoritarian Post-Fordism. Public Culture vol. 15, number 2 (Spring), pp. 323-346

2002 “Precoloniality and Colonial Subjectivity: Ethnographic Discourse and Native Policy in German Overseas Imperialism, 1780s-1914.” Political Power and Social Theory, volume 15, pp. 135-228.

2002 “Sociology in an Era of Fragmentation: Alvin Gouldner’s Coming Crisis of Western Sociology after 30 Years.” The Sociological Quarterly, volume 43, number 1 (February), pp. 111-137.  With Ou-Byung Chae.

1999 “Culture and the State.” Chapter One in State/Culture. Historical Studies of the State in the Social Sciences, edited by George Steinmetz.  Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, pp. 1-49.

1998 “Critical Realism and Historical Sociology.” Comparative Studies in Society and History volume 40, number 1, pp. 170-186.

1997 “Social Class and the Reemergence of the Radical Right in Contemporary Germany.” In Reworking Class: Cultures and Institutions of Economic Stratification and Agency, edited by John R. Hall.  Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, pp. 335-368.

1997  “German Exceptionalism and the Origins of Nazism: The Career of a Concept.” In Ian Kershaw and Moshe Lewin, eds., Stalinism and Nazism: Dictatorships in Comparison.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 251-284.

1996 “The Myth of an Autonomous State: Industrialists, Junkers, and Social Policy in Imperial Germany.”  In Society, Culture, and the State in Germany, 1870-1930, edited by Geoff Eley.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, pp. 257-318.

1994 “Die (un)moralische Ökonomie rechtsextremer Gewalt im Übergang zum Postfordismus.” Das Argument Vol. 23(1), number 203 (January/February), pp. 23-40.

1994  “Fordism and the `Immoral Economy’ of Right-Wing Violence in Contemporary Germany.” In Research on Democracy and Society, vol. 2.  JAI Press, pp. 277-316.

1994 “Regulation Theory, Post-Marxism, and the New Social Movements.” Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 36, number 1 (1994), pp. 176-212.

Reprinted in “Regulation Theory, Post-Marxism, and the New Social Movements.” In Bob Jessop, editor, Regulation Theory and the Crisis of Capitalism,  volume 5, “Developments and Extensions.”  Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar (2001), pp. 110146.

1992 “Reflections on the Role of Social Narratives in Working-Class Formation: Narrative Theory in the Social Sciences.” Social Science History vol. 16, number 3 (Fall), pp. 489516.

1991 “Workers and the Welfare State in Imperial Germany.” International Labor and Working-Class History volume 40, pp. 18-46.

1990 “The Myth and the Reality of an Autonomous State: Industrialists, Junkers, and Social Policy in Imperial Germany.” Comparative Social Research volume 12, pp. 239-293.

1990  “The Local Welfare State: Two Strategies for Social Domination in Urban Imperial Germany.” American Sociological Review, vol. 55, number 6, pp. 891-911.

1989  “The Fall and Rise of the Petty Bourgeoisie.” American Journal of Sociology volume 94, number 5 (March), pp. 973-1018. With Erik Olin Wright.


Short papers,comments, and appreciations: 

2016 “Georges Balandier, a Towering Figure in Africanist Sociology and Anthropology.” In Newsletter of the History of Sociology section of the International Sociological Association.

2016 “Georges Balandier, 1920-2016.” Trajectories: Newsletter of Comparative and Historical Sociology (Deecember)

2012 “British and French Sociology after 1945: the Colonial Connection.” Timelines (Newsletter of the Section on the History of Sociology, American Sociological Association), No. 20 (Nov.), pp. 2-6.

2012 “A Liberal Leviathan: The Creation of the Strong State in the 19th Century.” Review of Immanuel Wallerstein, Centrist Liberalism Triumphant, 1789-1914. The Modern WorldSystem IV. Contemporary Sociology 41:1 (January): 23-26.

2012 “Dispatches from the Robot Empire.” Review of Stephen Graham, Cities under Siege: The New Military Urbanism (London and New York: Verso, 2011). Contemporary Sociology (February) 41 (5): 606-608.

2011 “Comment on Kate Nash, “States of Human Rights.” Sociologica (Italian Journal of Sociology online), issue 1.

2011 “The Michigan Workshop in Social and Sociological Theory: Report on the first year.” In Perspectives, Newsletter of the Theory section of the American Sociological Association.

2008 “Response to Austen and Povinelli.” Trajectories: Newsletter of Comparative and Historical Sociology 19(2), Spring, pp. 16-19.

2007 Foreword to Seth Quartey, Missionary Practices on the Gold Coast, 1832-1895 (Cambria Press, 2007).

2005  “The First Genocide of the 20th Century and its Postcolonial Afterlives: Germany and the Namibian Ovaherero.” Journal of the International Institute (University of Michigan), 12:2 (Winter), pp. 1-2.

Italian translation in La causa dei popoli (journal, online).

2003 “Drums in the Postcolonial Night.” European Studies Newsletter (Council for European Studies), Vol. XXXIII, nr. 1, May 2003.

2003  “The Implications of Colonial and Postcolonial Studies for the Study of Europe.”  European Studies Newsletter (Council for European Studies), Vol. XXXII, nr. 3/4 (January), pp. 1-3.

1994  Comment on Philip Selznick, The Moral Commonwealth, in The Newsletter of PEGS.

Committee on the Political Economy of the Good Society.

1991  “Comment on Zolberg.” In James S. Coleman and Pierre Bourdieu, eds., Social Theory in a Changing Society. Westview Press, pp. 329-335.

1990  “Response to Linder and Houghton.” American Journal of Sociology volume 96, number 3, pp. 736-740.  With Erik Olin Wright.

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