John Torpey

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John Christopher Torpey
Born (1959-08-22) August 22, 1959 (age 59)
Nationality  United States
Occupation Professor, scholar, academic
Awards Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies
Academic background
Education Ph.D.
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D., 1992)
Amherst College (B.A., 1981)
Thesis Between anti-fascism and opposition: East German intellectuals, socialism, and the national question, 1945-1990[1] (1992)
Doctoral advisor Jerome Karabel
Academic work
Discipline Sociologist
Institutions Graduate Center, CUNY (2005-)
University of British Columbia (2000-2006)
University of California, Irvine (1996-2000)
Main interests Comparative historical sociology, Comparative religion[3]

John Christopher Torpey (born August 22, 1959) is an American academic, sociologist, and historian best known for his scholarship on the state, identity, and contemporary politics.[4] Torpey is currently a professor of sociology and history at the Graduate Center, CUNY and director of the Graduate Center's Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies.[2] From 2016 to 2017, Torpey served as the president of the Eastern Sociological Society.[5]

Education and career[edit]

Torpey received his bachelor of arts degree from Amherst College in 1981 in political science, before completing his Ph.D. in sociology at University of California, Berkeley in 1992.[2] At Berkeley, Torpey wrote his dissertation under the guidance of Jerome Karabel, Robert Bellah, and Martin Jay, which later became the foundation of his first book Intellectuals, Socialism, and Dissent: The East German Opposition and its Legacy.[6]

Torpey has held permanent teaching positions at the University of California, Irvine, the University of British Columbia, and at the Graduate Center, CUNY. In 2010, Torpey was the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies at the Karl-Franzens-University in Graz, Austria.

In addition to teaching, Torpey also sits on the editorial boards of the journals Theory and Society and Journal of Human Rights.[2]


Torpey has written extensively on the role of the state in shaping modern social life. In Intellectuals, Socialism, and Dissent, Torpey examined the role of intellectuals within the German Democratic Republic, their role in the Republic's eventual collapse, as well as their aspirations for reform.[7] Torpey has also received significant attention for his book The Invention of the Passport: Surveillance, Citizenship, and the State, which examines the institution of the modern passport. In The Invention of the Passport, Torpey borrows from sociologist Max Weber, arguing that states hold a “monopolization of the legitimate means of movement” and that the passport functions as a way of displacing and amplifying their administrative power.[8]

Torpey's most recent scholarship focuses on religion in modern society. Alongside Christian Joppke, Torpey has written on the legal and cultural integration of Islam into Western liberal democracies, comparing the United States, Germany, France, and Canada.[9]


Solely Authored Books[edit]

Co-authored Books[edit]

Edited Volumes[edit]


  1. ^ "Between anti-fascism and opposition : East German intellectuals, socialism, and the national question, 1945-1990". HathiTrust Digital Library. HathiTrust. 1992. Retrieved August 31, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d "John C. Torpey Curriculum Vitae". The Graduate Center, CUNY. 2014. Retrieved August 30, 2017. 
  3. ^ "John Torpey". Faculty Bios - Program in Sociology. The Graduate Center, CUNY. 2016. Retrieved August 31, 2017. 
  4. ^ "John Torpey". Core Faculty Profiles. The Graduate Center, CUNY. Retrieved August 30, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Society Presidents: 1930-Present". Eastern Sociological Society. Retrieved August 30, 2017. 
  6. ^ Torpey 1995, p. xiii.
  7. ^ Tismăneanu 1996, p. 947.
  8. ^ Scott 2002, p. 142-143.
  9. ^ Korteweg, Anna (2013). "Legal Integration of Islam: A Transatlantic Comparison by Christian Joppke and John Torpey". American Journal of Sociology. 120 (3): 963–965. Retrieved August 30, 2017. 


Scott, James C. (2002). "John Torpey, The Invention of the Passport: Surveillance, Citizenship, and the State". The Journal of Modern History. 74 (1): 142–144. 
Tismăneanu, Vladimir (1996). "Intellectuals, Socialism and Dissent: The East German Opposition and Its Legacy". The American Political Science Review. 90 (4): 947. 
Torpey, John C. (1995). Intellectuals, Socialism, and Dissent: The East German Opposition and its Legacy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0816625673. 

External Links[edit]