How about that? Foreign Policy has released its rankings, based on ballots cast, of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals, and Columbia University based, Ugandan anthropologist Mahmood Mamdani is ranked 9th — well ahead of the likes of Stephen Colbert who is sure to make some fuss about his lesser status. You can see the rankings explained, with biographies of the top finalists, here. You can also see the complete listing, without detail, here. Brief bios of all of the finalists can be found here. Mamdani was also ranked ahead of Noam Chomsky, Umberto Eco, Al Gore, and Richard Dawkins. The top 10 public intellectuals are all Muslim, and some are clerics. By public intellectual, Foreign Policy means someone whose ideas are widely influential and who has a talent for communicating with a broad public. The rankings, based on votes cast, were also influenced by voting drives sponsored by some of the finalists. One of my favourite authors and leading sources of inspiration, Ashis Nandy, also appears at number 64 (just ahead of General David Petraeus — phew).
Mamdani was also discussed in an earlier post on this blog, with reference to “useful anthropology” and the political constraints of the African post-colonial state. You can also find four videos of Mamdani in this blog’s videopod down the sidebar on the right of this page.