Skip to: site menu | section menu | main content

CWEN / RFÉ

Canadian Women Economists Network / Réseau de Femmes Économistes
Currently viewing: CWEN/RFÉ » Profiles

Michele Pujol (1951-1997)

by Robert Dimand (Posted 2/98)


The death of Michele Pujol on August 2 deprived feminist economists, historians of economic thought, and Canadian economists of an inspiring colleague and friend, who will be sorely missed. She died on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, in the home of her partner Brook, after five months of battling cancer.

Michele brought dedication, insight and enthusiasm to her teaching in Economics departments and Women's Studies programs at the University of Manitoba (1981-88) and the University of Victoria (1990- 1997). She also remained an activist beyond campus, helping, for example, to organize Winnipeg's first Gay/Lesbian Pride Marches and first Women's Music Festival. Michele's eloquent published research touched an even broader audience than her teaching, community activism, and conference participation. She combined meticulous scholarship with a profound commitment to illuminating the role of women in the economy and in economics. Her doctoral dissertation at Simon Fraser University formed the basis of her pathbreaking book, Feminism and Anti-Feminism in Early Economic Thought (Aldershot, UK, and Brookfield, VT: Edward Elgar Publishing, 1992), which greatly extended the scope of the history of economics in two directions. She shone a searchlight on the analysis of women's economic role in what she termed the "malestream" of British classical political economy and early neoclassical economics from Adam Smith to Edgeworth and Pigou, a topic which malestream historians of economics tend to restrict to discussion of John Stuart Mill (the only central figure in classical or early neoclassical economics to emerge honourably from such scrutiny). She also extended the canon of past economics, rescuing from neglect (and from what E. P. Thompson called "the crushing condescension of posterity") fascinating feminist analytical contributions on economic inequality by Harriet Hardy Taylor (later Harriet Taylor Mill), Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, Millicent

Garrett Fawcett, Eleanor Rathbone, and William Smart. Writing on "The feminist economic thought of Harriet Taylor (1807-58)" in _Women of Value: Feminist Essays on the History of Women in Economics_ (Mary Ann Dimand, Robert Dimand and Evelyn Forget, eds., Edward Elgar Publishing, 1995), Michele established the "materialist analysis that distinguishes Taylor from Mill's idealist and male-centred position. There cannot be any doubt that Taylor stands on her own as an original and insightful feminist thinker and as an economist and political theorist." Michele captivated the History of Economics Society annual meeting at the University of British Columbia in June 1996 with a presentation on her most ambitious project for extending the canon, a multi-volume anthology of women's contributions to political economy before 1900 which she was editing for publication by Routledge and Thoemmes Press. This major work, of four or more volumes, is being completed by her friends, and promises to transform our knowledge of the history of women in economics.

In addition to pioneering feminist history of economics, Michele was active in contemporary feminist economics, with particular attention to broadening research methodology. She was engaged in a study of the implementation of pay equity policies in Manitoba, which her friends are preparing for publication. An associate editor of _Feminist Economics_ from its foundation, Michele, together with Nancy Folbre, edited an "Explorations" section in the Fall 1996 issue (Volume 2, Number 3) on feminist issues in national accounting and on research priorities on nonmarket production. Michele guest-edited a five-paper "Explorations" section on "Broadening Economic Data and Methods" in the Summer 1997 issue of _Feminist Economics_ (Volume 3, Number 2), and in 1995 presented "Is This Really Economics? Using Qualitative Research Methods in Feminist Economic Research" to the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) conference in Tours. A contributor to _Out of the Margin: Feminist Perspectives on Economic Theory_ (Edith Kuiper and Jolande Saps, eds., Routledge, 1995) and active participant in the 1996 IAFFE conference in Washington, DC, Michele was a tremendously active, committed, articulate and productive scholar who challenged and was beginning to transform accepted views about the past and methodology of economics. Her scholarly contributions, and her warmth, enthusiasm and commitment, will be missed. Her research and her memory will continue to inspire feminist economists.

The Michele Pujol Scholarship Fund will benefit Women's Studies students at the University of Victoria who are low-income, lesbian, women of colour, and/or Native women. Cheques made out to the Michele Pujol Scholarship Fund may be mailed to Box 287, Ganges Post Office, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia V9K 2V9. _Atlantis: A Women's Studies Journal_ will publish a special issue, "Sexual Economics" (Vol. 32, No. 2, Spring 1999), on feminist economic perspectives, to celebrate the life and work of Michele Pujol, with submissions due by July 1, 1998. General information about submissions is available from the guest editor: Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Department of Women's Studies, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6, e-mail: mcohen@sfu.ca.

Robert Dimand, Brock University


Back to top