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For immediate release: Jan.22, 2001

Contact: Marilyn Marks, (609) 258-3601

Manfred Halpern, politics professor, dies at 76

Princeton, N.J. -- Manfred Halpern, professor of politics, emeritus, at Princeton University, died Jan. 14 in his home in Princeton. He was 76. An expert on the politics of the Near East and Africa, Professor Halpern focused his later work on an original "theory of transformation" that explained the creation of fundamentally new and better relations between people.

Born in Mitteweida, Germany in 1924, Halpern and his family left the country in 1937 because of the rise of the Nazis and moved to the United States. After graduation from Townsend Harris High School in New York, Halpern began college at UCLA but interrupted his studies to serve as a battalion scout in the 28th Infantry Division during World War II, seeing action in the Battle of the Bulge and other battles. Following Germany's surrender, he served in Counterintelligence tracking down former Nazis throughout Germany, including in his hometown of Mitteweida, and served as an instructor in the Counterintelligence Corps.

After his military service, Halpern received his bachelor's degree in literature from UCLA, and his master's degree and doctorate from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. From 1948 to 1958 he served in the State Department in a variety of intelligence research positions, particularly as an expert on the politics of the Near East and Africa. In recognition of his outstanding service for research, he was given the Meritorious Service Award in 1952.

Halpern began teaching at Princeton as a visiting associate professor in 1958. He joined the politics department the next year and remained at Princeton until his retirement in 1994. As a professor in the politics department, he taught graduate and undergraduate courses on the Middle East and modernization theory. Twice, his classes were selected in student rankings of the university's top undergraduate courses.

In 1962, Halpern wrote what has become a classic study in its field, "The Politics of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa," which has been reprinted six times. He authored more than 30 scholarly articles, book chapters, and monographs. During his tenure at the university he was a faculty associate of the Center of International Studies and the Program in Near Eastern Studies.

Halpern was a founding member of the Middle East Studies Association, the National Council of the American Society for Social Psychiatry, and Americans for Democratic Action. He served as associate editor for the journal World Politics and as a research fellow at the Adlai Stevenson Institute of International Affairs (University of Chicago). He also was a member of the Middle East Institute in Washington.

After spending two decades studying political change, Halpern devoted his energies to his theory of transformation and was finishing the first volume of what was to be a two-volume study of that theory. The volume, "Transforming Our Personal, Political, Historical and Sacred Being" will be published posthumously with the assistance of his friend and colleague, David T. Abalos. In 1988, Seton Hall University awarded Halpern an honorary degree for his work on the theory of transformation.

Halpern is survived by his wife, Cynthia Perwin Halpern and their son, Joshua; his former wife, Betsy Steele Halpern and their four children: Jeffrey, Tamara, Tia and Nick; his five grandchildren, Zachary, Noah, William, Paula and Sara; and two cousins, Miriam Weiker and Arie Bierman.

There will be a memorial service in the spring at Princeton University. Donations may be sent to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 500 Washington Ave., Montgomery, Ala. 36014.

Editors: Photos are available at