Peter Beilharz (born 13 November 1953 in Melbourne, Australia) is an Australian sociologist. He is currently Professor of Culture and Society at Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia. Previously he was Professor of Sociology at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Beilharz is also a co-founder and editor of the international journal of social theory Thesis Eleven published by Sage. From 2002–2014 he was the director of the Thesis Eleven Centre for Cultural Sociology at La Trobe University. He is best known for his work in social theory and socialism. for his intellectual biography of the Australian art historian, Bernard Smith, and his several books on the eminent Polish sociologist, Zygmunt Bauman. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. In 1999–2000 he was the Harvard Chair of Australian Studies, Harvard University. In 2015 was a a Research Fellow at STIAS, Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study.
I come from a tradition that reaches back to Marx and the dialectics of culture and technology. This lineage travels through critical theory and what I would now call southwestern marxism , whose signal thinker is Gramsci. Subsequently I was influenced by the Budapest School and Castoriadis. As part of this path I founded Thesis Eleven, the journal of international social theory, in 1980, and continue to edit it today, with a team of talented and good humoured colleagues based in Melbourne. I joined Curtin in 2015, an exciting new prospect for me. Hitherto I have worked in cultural and historical sociology at La Trobe. My great enthusiasm at Curtin is for the prospect of working with others around the clusters on writing and cities. I am best known for my work on maverick critical thinkers such as Bernard Smith and Zygmunt Bauman, and on the history of socialism, modernity and the history of ideas more generally. I have published 27 books and 200 papers, as well as much journalism and reviewing. My most recent books, 2015, are Thinking the Antipodes, and The Martin Presence, the latter with Trevor Hogan and Sheila Shaver. At Curtin I take as my remit the sphere of Culture and Society, a nod to Raymond Williams, and a wink to the frames of culture, technology, words, texts, and contexts. I will be working on books of essays on Marx and Gramsci, and on a monograph called The Rationalization of the World. I am available for supervision and offer intensive master classes.
After completing teacher training I worked with Alastair Davidson at Monash, completing a PhD on Trotskyism in 1983. I fell into the company of sociologists, many of whom were historians at the Phillip Institute in 1983. In 1987 I took up a postdoctoral fellowhip at The University of Melbourne with Stuart Macintyre. In 1988 I took up the postion vacated by Agnes Heller at La Trobe, rising from lecturer to personal chair in 1999. In 1999-2000 I acted as Chair of Austraian Studies at Harvard, returning to Harvard in 2002 to act as William Dean Howells Fellow in American Literature 1880-1920. I am currently affiliated with the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study; the Yale Center for Cultural Sociology; with the Bauman Institute at Leeds, and am Professor Emeritus at La Trobe. Over these years I actively encouraged cultural traffic across the Atlantic and across the south, with especial reference to New Zealand, South Africa, Delhi and Manila, in my work as Director of the Thesis Eleven Centre 2002-2014 and as editor, or curator of the journal Thesis Eleven. I am engaged in collaborative work with Sian Supski, on the Melbourne subculture called the sharpies, and on the city writing of Ivan Vladislavic. I am working with Jon Stratton and other Curtin colleagues on a WA issue of Thesis Eleven.