Harvard Workshop: Historicizing "the Economy" (September 23-24)

If you are interested in attending, please RSVP here by Friday, September 5

Historicizing "The Economy"

A Two Day Workshop on the Techno-Politics of the Economy
Harvard University, September 23-24
Room S020 (Belfer Case Study Room)
CGIS South Building (1730 Cambridge St.)

This two day workshop aims to bring together scholars working on the emergence and the history of different conceptions of the “economic” and the “economy” as objects of economic thought and political practice. Both academics and the lay public have tended to project present day economic concepts back into history. But the now unavoidable intuition of there being a special sphere, realm, or aspect of social reality that could be characterized as “economic” or an object called “the economy” is a historically recent one. Over the past two decades, interest in the genealogies of these concepts and their imbrication in modes of government has grown, yet scholars working on this issue have not gathered to discuss the different chronologies and competing narratives that have been proposed. This event will provide early career researchers with a venue where they will engage in interdisciplinary conversation on the place of the “economic” and the “economy” in the history of economic thought and policy with some of the established pioneers in the field.

The origins of the economic are receiving heightened interdisciplinary attention right now due to the position of this problem at the confluence of three literatures. First, the 1990s saw a wave of new histories of statistics, accounting, and econometrics – knowledges inseparable from the conceptualization of the economy. Second, there is a burgeoning new literature from the sociology of finance on “the performativity of economics.” Third, there is growing interdisciplinary recognition of the importance of Michel Foucault’s recently published lectures at the Collège de France on governmentality, which include readings of physiocracy, Adam Smith, Ordoliberalism, and the Chicago School. Finally, Timothy Mitchell and others have begun to examine the construction of the economy as a part material, part conceptual assemblage, paying particular attention to vital infrastructure systems such as energy and money. The workshop intends to tie these four lines of inquiry and push the frontiers of the study of the economy as one of the central objects of contention of our modernity further. 

The workshop is organized by Daniel Hirschman (University of Michigan/Brown University), Adam Leeds (Harvard University/Columbia University) and Onur Özgöde (Duke University). 

The event is supported by the New Horizons Initiative of the History of Economics Society, Young Scholars Initiative of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School, and the Program on the Study of Capitalism. 


 Friday, 9/23

• 8:30AM – Arrival, Light Breakfast

• 9:00AM – Welcome

• 9:10AM – Politics of Planning and Modeling “the Economy” (Part 1)

– Thomas Angeletti, The Laboratory of the French Economy

– Tripp Rebrovick, “The Market is not The Economy”: Regimes of Sight and the Constitution of Economic Knowledge

– Verena Halsmayer, “The Economy” as a Structure of Capital Flows: Making Input-Output Tables at the Harvard Economic Research Project

– Onur Ozgode, Nominal (Im)Balances of the National Economy: Construction of the State/Economy Boundary between 1922-1947

– Discussant: Sophus Reinert

• 11:10AM – The National and the International

– Jamie Martin, How did Postwar Planners Think of the “World Economy?” The Forgotten Efforts of 1940-1943

– Colin Danby, Discovering Economies in British Africa

– Alden Young, Sudan Between Imperialism and the Age of Development

Discussant: David Armitage

• 12:40PM – Lunch

• 2:00PM – Formalizations of the Economic

– Yahya Madra, Auction or Selection? Two Competing (Neoclassical) Metaphors for “the Economy”

– Philippe Steiner, Economy as Matching

– Till Du ̈ppe, Economic Consciousness: Four Historical Considerations

– Rachel Knecht, “All Arithmetic Should Be Practical”: Calculating Rationality in Antebellum America

– Discussant: Chris Desan

• 4:00PM – Break

• 4:15PM – The Economic, Incentives, Rationality

– Justin Douglas, Bretton Fosbrook, & Kira Lussier, The Art of Corporate Governing in the Postwar Period

– Daniel Breslau, Household Marketization and the End of the Economy

– Guus Dix, Incentivizable Man: the Emergence of Incentivization as a New Modality of Power, 1886–1920 (and Beyond)

– Martha Lampland, Monetary Imaginaries in Inflationary Times

– Discussant: TBA.

Saturday, 9/24

• 8:30AM – Arrival, Light Breakfast

• 9:00AM – Politics of Planning and Modeling “the Economy” (Part 2)

– Nikhil Menon, Knowing Through Numbers: Planning, Statistics, and Defining the Indian Economy

– Adam Leeds, On the Socialist Origins of the Capitalist Economy

– Dan Hirschman, Managing the Economy in Real Time

– Discussant: Timothy Mitchell

• 11:00AM – Formatting National Economic Space

– Hannah Appel, Toward an ethnography of “the economy”

– Margaret Schabas, Concepts of the Economy in Eighteenth-Century French and British Economic Thought

– Jorge Gonzalez, The “Exceptional” Creation of the Economy in Latin America: Columbia in the 1960s

– Discussant: Quinn Slobodian

• 12:30PM – Lunch

• 1:45PM – The Public Life of “The Economy”

– Allegra Giovine, Fantasies and Fallacies of Fortune: Visions of Burma’s Colonial Economy c.1900-1937

– Melissa Teixeira, The Popular and the National Economy: The Case of Brazil’s Estado Novo (1937-1945)

– Tim Shenk, The Political Origins of the American Economy

– Soo-Young Kim, Figuring the Future: Everyday Economics in Greece

– Discussant: Sam Moyn 

• 3:45PM – Break

• 4:00PM – The Economical and the Natural

– Chris Jones, The Disappearing Natural World: Genealogies of Economics, Growth, and Abstraction

– Alyssa Battistoni, The Economy of Nature: Whole Earth Economics and the Disappearance of the Outside

– Richard Lane, Resources For Freedom: Scarcity and the Postwar Growth of the Economy

– Discussant: Lukas Rieppel