Category Archives: Research Interests

HISRECO 2016 in São Paulo


Left to right: Y. Giraud, P. Duarte and T. Vogelgsang

The 10th History of Recent Economics (HISRECO) conference was held at the university of São Paulo on March 14-15 2016. Though I only joined the organization after a few years of operation – the conference had been funded in 2007 by  Roger Backhouse, Philippe Fontaine and Tiago Mata and I joined the team in 2010 -, I must say that I did not think it would make it to its tenth edition. A few years back, and though each edition had its share of great contributions, I felt that we had exhausted our topic, having received most of those we deemed to be the main contributors to the history of postwar economics.



The audience at Hisreco 2016, São Paulo

This year proved me wrong. In his contribution, Philippe Fontaine depicted the rise of “another history of economics”, one which is written by people who have not been trained – like myself – as economists: historians, sociologists and political scientists whose take on economics and/or the economy contribute to the renewal of  the conversation. This is not exactly old news. Hisreco has always been inclined to give a prominent place to those non-disciplinary historians of economics. What has changed, though, is that during this year’s meeting, I did not feel any gap between the community of economists-historians and those who do not come from the traditional “history of economic thought” culture. Topics such as the relations between economics and neighboring disciplines, between theorizing and policy practices, between facts and theories, between macro and micro, as well as accounts of neoliberalism during the postwar period were discussed and debated with a common language. All of the researchers who participated in the conference are interested in doing the archives, and more generally in talking about economics, not as a a mere repository of past analyses, but as a set of discursive practices, embedded in specific communities and cultures.



First row (left to right): Marcel Boumans, Ted Porter, Joel Isaac, Leonardo Nunes, Camila Orozco Espinel, Tobias Vogelgsang, Yann Giraud, Pedro Duarte, Erich Pinzon Fuchs. In front (l. to r.): Philippe Fontaine, Tiago Mata and Luke Messac.

This is not to say that all researchers in the history of economics are now fond of the frameworks used in science studies but at least some of that language has made its way in all of the contributions we had at the conference. On the other hand, those who do not come from the HET tradition are increasingly inclined to include in their narratives a fair treatment of the kind of accounts that economists have given of their past. For instance, in Luke Messac’s history of health policies and economics in Malawi or in Joel Isaac’s depiction of “property rights economics”, internalist accounts are not taken as granted but are themselves part of the story that is told. In fact, members of the audience who are not familiar with the curriculum vita of our guests may have had difficulties in trying to guess whether Ted Porter, Tobias Vogelgsang, Marcel Boumans, Camila Orozco Espinel, Erich Pinzon Fuchs or Tiago Mata work in an economics or a history/STS/sociology department.


Marcel Boumans and Bruno Damski

Pedro Duarte, who highly succeeded in the task of hosting and co-organizing the conference, had also conceived a poster session with some Brazilian graduate students. This proved to be a very nice feature of the meeting, though one that is not likely to be transposed easily to other places. History of economics seems to be subject worth of attention in Brazil, as attested by the size of the attendance, the biggest I have witnessed in recent years. In addition, Pedro told me that the USP website, which streamed the event online, had 192 views. This all makes me quite positive about future conferences. This is the first time since I joined the organizing committee that I can project myself easily several years in the future. But this one was definitely special. I even came up with a new moto for Hisreco: “unearthing the future of the recent past of economics, one caipirinha conference at a time”.


History of ‘Economics as Culture’ 3rd Annual Workshop

3rd Annual Workshop, Friday April 8th, 2011

History of ‘Economics as Culture’

(Histoire Culturelle des Savoirs Économiques)
Université de Cergy-Pontoise,
Les Chênes II, Salle des Thèses




From Otto Neurath, Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft – Bildatlas, 1930, p. 74

This workshop, which is organized on behalf of THEMA (CNRS UMR 8184), EconomiX (CNRS UMR 7235) and the Cachan History of Social Science Group (H2S), brings together scholars from different disciplines to discuss from an historical vantage point, the place of economics in our culture. Below are some of topics that exemplify what will be at issue :

– To consider the interactions between art, literature and economics ;
– To discuss the interactions between cultural or artistic objects such as magazines, books, maps, photographs, paintings, graphs and economic thinking and to consider economic texts as cultural items and to reflect upon the consequences their physical form had on their reception.
– To consider economics as part of cultures (political, commercial, scientific, etc.) of past (including very recent past) societies ; in particular, to discuss the economic representations (or culture) of specific social groups such as merchants, workers, businessmen, etc.


10:00-10:30 am : Welcome, coffee and pastries
10:30-11:30 am
Christopher Burke
(University of Reading – Dept of Typography and Graphic Communication)
The Linguistic Status of Pictorial Statistics
Emma Helena Minns
(University of Reading – Dept of Typography and Graphic Communication)
Picturing Soviet Success : Soviet pictorial statistics 1931-1940
12:30-2:00pm : Lunch
2:00-3:00 pm
Sophie Cras
(Université Paris I – Dept of art history)
“Artistic Shareholding” Experiments in the 1960s
3:00-4:00 pm
Arnaud Orain
(Université de Bretagne Occidentale – Dept of economics)
Success in, or with the help of Rhetoric and Belles-Lettres ?
A Case Study of Eighteenth Century French Economists
4:00-4:15 pm : Coffee Break
4:15-5:15 pm
Gül Karagoz – Kizilca
(SUNY Binghamton and Ankara University)
Bringing the Public into the Arena of Politics :
Ottoman Newspapersand the Quest for Fiscal Responsibility for an Emerging Voice of “the Public”

If you plan to attend the workshop, please contact the organizers : Yann Giraud (yann.giraud [at] or Loïc Charles (charles [at]

How to get to the University of Cergy-Pontoise (from Paris)

CfP – Session on visualization at the 14th ESHET Conference (March 25-28, 2010)

For the 14th conference of the European Society for the History of Economic Thought in Amsterdam, I am submitting a session on the use of visual representation in economics, with the following argument:

The last two decades have witnessed a growing literature on visualization in the history of science following the publication of Lynch and Woolgar’s Representation in Scientific Practice (1990) – see for instance a recent focus section in Isis (March 2006). Despite previous attempts to draw the attention of historians of economics and insightful published papers on the subject – e.g. a ECHE conference in 2002 and a related mini-symposium in JHET in 2003), the use of visual representation in economics remains largely misunderstood. Graphical methods, for instance, are still regarded as a mere subdivision of mathematical analysis, whereas Klein (1995), Cook (2005) and Giraud (2007) have demonstrated that they have been considered distinct from mathematics since the early days of neoclassical economics. More generally, though anyone would concede that graphs, charts, tables, pictures and illustrations are part of the economist’s workaday tools, few efforts have been engaged to understand precisely how they operate within the larger models and theoretical frameworks in which they are used. Failure to recognize the role of visualization in economics is related to the fact that historians of the field tend to focus on the development of theory rather than on the practices in which theorization is entrenched, favoring a foundational approach which undermines cultural specificities. The most recent contributions to the history of science, indeed, have pointed out that the role of visualization in science is best understood within the framework of visual culture – see for instance Luc Pauwels (ed.), Visual Cultures of Science (2006).In this session, we would like to follow this literature by bringing together a set of papers which explore the use of visual representation in connection with peculiar cultures, whether disciplinary or operating at a larger level – the birth of mass-media in the US, for instance. Contributions will focus on the invention of visual devices in relation with specific practices, on the interaction between economists and artists or on how certain visual methods are affected when audiences are different from those they were originally intended for. They need not be focused on theoretical economics but also on the use of visual representation by economic propagandists, state administrations or practitioners operating on markets.

I already have two papers for the session, including one by Loic Charles and myself on the visual display of economic information in the US during the interwar period (we draw on the FSA pictorial project and on Otto Neurath‘s Isotype method). I would be happy to include one or two other papers. These may not be strictly papers on the history of economics but also papers on the history of management or general history articles which cover economic themes (for instance, economic history, history of measurement and the larger history of social sciences). Beyond the ESHET conference, this session may help launch the discussion on this neglected aspect of scientific practice and to help increase multidisciplinary work on the subject in the near future. If you have an abstract to submit, you can do this directly to me (yann.giraud[at], replace [at] with @), I will re-submit the session as a whole before the papers are individually submitted through the ESHET website. You can also contact me if you have already submitted a paper which you think may fit this session in particular.