Innovators: Roberto Mangabeira Unger
Roberto Mangabeira Unger’s journey through American academe and Brazilian politics has been long, tedious and fraught with challenges, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Unger moved to New York at 6 months old, before moving back to Brazil only five years later. Unger’s ideas draw much condemnation from critics, but to this relentless seeker of new ideas, shaking things up is the only way to make them fall into place.
Of all of the influences in Roberto Unger’s life, including a journalist mother who wrote poetry and edited a feminist magazine, and a great uncle who founded the Brazilian Socialist Party, there was one who stood out. Unger says his grandfather, an astronomer coerced into politics, was his greatest inspiration. Fittingly, Unger’s own political and social ideas convey idealism, tempered by practical logic.