Tag Archives: History of Recent Economics

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”.


9th History of Recent Economics (HISRECO) Workshop – 29 May 2015

Cartoon by Jason Lutes, originaly published in  the New York Times in 2009.

Cartoon by Jason Lutes, originally published in the New York Times in 2009.

UPDATE. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Joel Isaac will not be able to attend the workshop. Instead, Maxime Desmarais-Tremblay will be talking about Musgrave’s contribution to public goods theory.

The 9th History of Recent Economics (HISRECO) Workshop will be held at the University of Cergy-Pontoise (Salle des Thèse), on May 29th, 2015.  It will comprise five contributions aimed at understanding better postwar economics and social science. Joel Isaac, from the University of Cambridge, will offer a historian’s view on the concept of monopoly (spoiler alert: he will argue that there are actually two concepts of monopoly); Adam Leeds, who is currently visiting the Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke University, will study the birth of mathematical economics in Soviet Russia; Serge Benest, a PhD Candidate at ENS Cachan, will give an account of the early years of the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, based in part on a study of the archives at the Rockefeller Archive Center; Matthias Schmelzer, a postdoctoral researcher at the Paul Bairoch Institute of Economic History at the University of Geneva, will study the origins of the critique of economic growth at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; last but not least, Pedro Duarte, from the university of Sao Paulo, will analyse the role of models and facts in Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium models. These contributions will show that the history of recent economics can be studied from many different perspectives and will surely convince attendants that it is a subject worth pursuing. Also, this workshop will mark a turning point in the history of HISRECO. Next year should be different, but I can’t write much more at the moment. The full program can be downloaded below. Those who are interested in attending should feel free to contact me at yann.giraud[at]u-cergy.fr. The HISRECO workshop is organized by Roger Backhouse (University of Birmingham), Philippe Fontaine (ENS Cachan) and myself and it is funded by the International Research Network CNRS “History of Recent Social Science”.

Hisreco 2015 program

HISRECO 2010 – Call For Papers

Fourth Conference on the History of Recent Economics

3-5 June 2010

École normale supérieure de Cachan

The Second World War and its aftermath marked a major stage in the establishment of economics as one of the dominant discourses in contemporary societies. The spread of economic ideas into many areas of social life invites mutually profitable engagements between historians of economics and historians of other social sciences. It also presents great potential for those working on the history of economics to broaden their audience beyond those that they have traditionally addressed.

The past decade has been witness to a surging interest in the history of economics post-WWII. This new scholarship has made good use of newly available source-materials, rehearsed new methodologies for the study of the past and looked across disciplinary boundaries for insights. The first three HISRECO conferences offered wide-ranging samples of this work. For the fourth consecutive year, we are inviting submissions of papers on the post-WWII era. Papers that deal with the period leading up to this may be considered, but only if they shed significant light on subsequent developments. Though all proposals will be carefully considered, our preference is for papers that place post-war economics in a broader context, whether this is parallel developments in other social sciences, politics, culture or economic challenges. To this end, we solicit proposals from scholars trained in history, economics, sociology, or any field that may yield insights. Proposals from doctoral students and junior researchers are actively encouraged.

If you are interested in participating, please submit a proposal containing roughly 500 words and indicating clearly the original contribution of the paper (if you have a draft of the paper, we would be happy to see that as well). The deadline for the submission of paper proposals is 30 September 2009. Notice of acceptance or rejection will be sent by 15 November 2009 and completed papers will be due on 1 March 2010 so that we can provide feedback and then give discussants time to prepare worthwhile comments.

The organizing committee consists of Roger Backhouse (University of Birmingham), Philippe Fontaine (École normale supérieure de Cachan and Institut universitaire de France), Yann Giraud (Université de Cergy-Pontoise) and Tiago Mata (University of Amsterdam).

Proposals should be sent electronically to philippe.fontaine [at] ens-cachan.fr.
For further information about the conference please contact Philippe Fontaine.